Judge orders Samsung to stop ripping off Apple

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and Note 5

Be careful how you unlock these Samsung devices; Apple might sue you.

Samsung might soon be legally forbidden from continuing to rip off Apple.

In a 2-1 decision today, a federal appeals court ruled that the monetary damages another court ordered the South Korean company to pay Apple last year wasn’t enough; it also had to stop using those design elements that infringe upon Cupertino’s patents.

This ruling doesn’t extend to physical features like the contested beveled edge, but it does include features like swiping to unlock, autocomplete, and autolinking, which instantly converts phone numbers in e-mails and texts into links users can tap on to initiate calls.

“The right to exclude competitors from using one’s property rights is important. And the right to maintain exclusivity — a hallmark and crucial guarantee of patent rights deriving from the Constitution itself — is likewise important,” the ruling said (via Variety).

Apple had originally sued Samsung for $2.2 billion and won, but the ruling reduced the fine to $119 million and denied the injunction that would force Samsung to stop selling phones with the offending features in the U.S. If the next court to hear the case rules in Apple’s favor, it could potentially affect future Samsung devices. But as patents blog Foss Patents reported back when the injunction was originally on the table, Samsung still has the option of seeking out “non-infringing alternatives” that will let it sidestep any bans the court might place.

In other words, if Apple wins, consumers likely won’t notice any difference in the availability of Samsung devices. This might make all of this court time seem pointless, but Apple may just be seeking to secure a precedent that will speed up future proceedings, which themselves may or may not have an actual affect on anything in the real world.

So that’ll be fun.