On Friday, June 29, 2012 the Federal District Court in San Jose granted a pretrial injunction prohibiting Samsung electronics from selling its new Galaxy Nexus phone. The judge ruled that Apple was likely to succeed in its patent infringement claim against Samsung’s S Voice digital assistant software. This is a major element in establishing exclusivity of Apple’s marquee feature, the “Siri” voice-automated virtual assistant. This patent relates to a key element in the implementation of “Siri.” Apple’s US Patent No. 8,086,604 describes a technique in which a phone’s computer processor searches multiple databases, and uses a heuristic function to determine relevant responses. Heuristic functions use real-life experience gained through trial and error rather than performing comparisons in a mechanical manner.
Grant of a pretrial injunction is a stunning victory for Apple. Pretrial injunctions against patent infringement are difficult to obtain, and the Supreme Court has made them even more difficult to obtain in recent years. Apple must post a $95.6 million bond to cover the possible losses of Samsung if Apple loses the lawsuit.
The week before this decision, Chicago federal court judge Richard Posner ruled that Apple could not pursue an injunction against Google’s Motorola Mobility. It is likely that the patent battles will continue at least until the technology becomes obsolete.