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Monday, May 14, 2012, 06:32 pm PT (09:32 pm ET)

Court revives Apple bid for Galaxy Tab injunction, rejects smartphone ban

A U.S. federal appeals court on Monday ruled that a California judge was wrong in denying Apple's request to block sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab, but affirmed the trial judge's decision to deny the injunction of smartphones made by the South Korean electronics giant.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted part of Apple's appeal of a California court ruling that denied the company preliminary injunctions on Samsung products that are claimed to infringe on certain software and design patents, reports Reuters.

Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California initially denied all of Apple's assertions to ban the sale of four Samsung products that allegedly violated three design patents and one software patent. The iPad maker filed an appeal a week later, and was seen to stand a good chance at getting at least some of the denials overturned.

The appeals court disagreed with Judge Koh's finding that the iPad design patent leveraged against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 could be challenged as "obvious," meaning that the property should not have been granted. The case will return to the district court for review under the assumption that the patent is valid. Even if Apple wins a preliminary inunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1, however, it is possible that Samsung will make only minor tweaks to the design and relaunch the product as it did with the Galaxy Tab 10.1N in Germany.

Monday's ruling wasn't entirely in Apple's favor as the court reaffirmed Judge Koh's decision to deny the preliminary injunction of other Samsung smartphones and tablets that supposedly infringed on two iPhone design patents and one software patent describing a method of page scrolling.

Apple first filed suit against Samsung in April 2011, saying that the company copied the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad. The patent dispute now spans four continents with over 30 cases in ten countries.

Most recently a German court stayed an Apple lawsuit regarding photo viewing and postponed a ruling on a separate pinch-to-zoom case citing internal delays.

Executives from both companies will meet in court-mediated settlement talks scheduled for May 21 to 22, though complete resolution of the numerous cases is seen as unlikely.