A federal judge has handed Apple a major legal win in its patent war with rival Samsung, blocking the South Korean tech giant from selling its Galaxy 10.1 tablet in the United States.
In a ruling fueled in part by legal direction from a federal appeals court, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh granted Apple's request for a preliminary injunction that prevents Samsung from selling the tablet while the court considers Apple's claim that Samsung illegally copied the design of the popular iPad.
The Galaxy tab, which operates on Google's Android operating system, is considered a chief competitor to the iPad.
Within hours of the judge's decision, Samsung filed court papers late Tuesday night saying it would ask a federal appeals court to put the order on hold.
Samsung released a statement saying it was "disappointed" in Koh's ruling and "will take necessary legal steps." The company added that the ruling should not have "a significant impact on our business operations, as we possess a diverse range of Galaxy tab products."
Koh had previously denied a request for an injunction to block the Galaxy tab, but the Federal U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., which reviews patent cases, ordered the judge to take another look at the case and suggested an injunction in Apple's favor may be warranted. Koh agreed in the decision she released late Tuesday.
"Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly, by flooding the market with infringing products," Koh wrote in her decision.
The judge said Apple had presented "a strong case on the merits" that the Galaxy 10.1 device infringes on Apple's patents. Koh ordered Apple to post more than $2 million bond in the event Samsung later proves that its tablet does not infringe on Apple's patents.
The decision comes as the two companies are preparing for a trial in late July in Apple's broader challenge to Samsung, which alleges that the company "slavishly copied" its iPhone and iPad devices. Koh is expected to rule soon on whether to issue a preliminary injunction that would also block Samsung from continuing to sell one of its Galaxy line of smartphones.
Apple has been waging an international patent war in the courts to protect its iTurf. Just last week a federal judge in Chicago rejected a bid by Apple to block Motorola from selling its smartphones based on alleged patent violations.