A US district judge this week handed Apple a victory in its ongoing legal battle
with Samsung, denying the latter its reciprocal discovery request for a peek at prototypes of the upcoming versions of the iPhone and iPad. The request followed a similar one filed by Apple, in order to view Samsung products, including the Galaxy S II, Galaxy Tab 8.9, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Infuse 4G, and Droid Charge. Samsung, for its part, argued that taking an early look
at the Apple's upcoming phone and tablet would be relevant to the legal ruling, seeing as how any changes made in those upcoming products would affect the trade dress ("total product image") of the line, and thereby potentially alter the possibility of consumer confusion, an important factor in determining infringement with certain unregistered trademarks with the product.
The court denied Samsung's motion on a number of grounds. For one thing, Apple's initial complaint pertained to infringement of existing products, parameters deemed legit by the court. Also, the court took into account the fact that Apple tends to be far more tight-lipped about its product releases, whereas Samsung made a point of offering up information about forthcoming products into the public domain, including the release of 5,000 Galaxy Tab 10.1 units as samples to the public. That said, the judge was careful to note that Apple's suggestion that court protection of its trade secrets was insufficient "is not well taken." More details after the break.
Samsung's request was based partially on the assumption that Apple would be releasing the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 this calendar year -- an assumption in turn based on internet reporting to that effect. The court acknowledged that there is likely some validity to the iPhone speculation, given Apple's past release history of a yearly iPhone release, but given the fact that the iPad 2 just hit in March, the release of a successor before the end of the year seems unlikely. Either way, upcoming products don't fall in the scope of the Apple claims that got the ball rolling on these motions.
That said, the court is still leaving open the possibility for Samsung to argue that its existing products will be sold alongside future iPhone and iPad models, and that the reduction of price of existing Apple models due to the introduction of newer versions will put the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 in "a different class" than existing products. All of which is to to say that, as expected, this back and forth is not likely to go away anytime soon.