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Instant Analysis: Apple, Inc. Wins Token Legal Victory Blocking Sale of Samsung Phones

By Evan Niu, CFA - Jan 19, 2016 at 2:45PM

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The iDevice maker wins a symbolic victory against Samsung, but it likely won't have much impact on the market.

What happened?
As part of the ongoing legal battle with Samsung, Apple (AAPL 2.62%) has now won an injunction that prohibits Samsung from selling certain devices in the U.S. This is part of the original patent lawsuit that Apple won in 2012 that has still continued to progress through appeals courts over the years.

The main patent that remains relevant is the controversial slide-to-unlock patent, which has already been invalidated in the European Union, but is still technically valid in the U.S. However, the patent only covers how slide-to-unlock is implemented, and not the functionality itself. The only Samsung phone models that are affected are the Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S II, Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy S II Skyrocket, Galaxy S III, and Stratosphere.

Does it matter?
This injunction is more of a symbolic victory than a functional one that will affect market dynamics. Samsung and other Android OEMs have already learned to design around the specific implementations covered by the slide-to-unlock patent, and the related smartphone models are so old that a sales injunction won't affect current sales in any meaningful way.

Meanwhile, Apple has made it clear that it is moving away from legislative strategies. The patent lawsuits were initiated under Steve Jobs, and Tim Cook has expressed that he hates legislation and the only real winners of prolonged legal battles are the lawyers that each side hires. None of the court decisions have ever had much impact on competition, and Apple hasn't initiated any patent lawsuits in years.

Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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