Apple has been granted a preliminary injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Nexus smartphone, which means if Apple agrees to pay a levy of $96m, the company would be forced to halt sales of the smartphone in the US.
The court decision, granted by the same judge that primarily halted sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the US earlier in the week, will come as a massive blow to Samsung and Google in their continued battle against Apple and the iPhone and iPad.
The timing for Google couldn't be worse either: Google has just announced that the Galaxy Nexus will be the first Android smartphone that will be upgradeable to the latest version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. That update was to happen in July.
"Judge Koh has granted Apple request for prelim injunction against Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone. Story TK", Dan Levine, Reuter's legal reporter on the West Coast, tweeted from the hearing.
According to Levine, in a follow-up tweet, the decision revolves around the use of the '604 patent:
"Looks like Koh's ruling for Apple is driven by '604 patent, which involves unified search functionality"
Another tweet adds: "Koh: 'Apple has articulated a plausible theory of irreparable harm' b/c of 'long-term loss of market share and 'losses of downstream sales'."
Patent expert Florian Mueller, also closely following the case, but from afar, tweeted that the patent '604 in question refers to the Siri patent:
"According to @FedcourtJunkie, the '604 patent won the day for Apple against the Galaxy Nexus. That's the 'Siri patent'!"
Apple has appeared to convince Judge Koh that Samsung is infringing on a search patent, something that is likely to be even more damning considering Google's core business. It could also mean that. if successful with the Galaxy Nexus, Apple could go after the Samsung Galaxy SIII, Samsung's newly launched flagship device.
The outcome of the decision means that Apple will have to pay a bond of $96m for the preliminary injunction. If the injunction fails to stand, the money will go to Samsung.
If Apple is successful in the injunction becoming permanent, Google would be without a flagship Nexus smartphone on its home turf, something we are sure the search engine company doesn't even want to think about.