Patlit for drawing our attention to the judgment in the first round of Apple/Samsung in Northern California. Like the German and Netherlands cases we have reported so far, Apple have cited their iPad design US D504,889 (equivalent to RCD 181607-0001) and their iPhone designs US D618,677 and D593,087 (probably equivalent to RCDs 748280-0006 and 888920-0018).
Apple lost the preliminary injunction case largely on economic factors. One of the points argued was whether erosion of the uniqueness of a design could cause irreparable harm sufficient to warrant a preliminary injunction - a fascinating argument which was seemingly not rejected out of hand, but found not persuasive.
On the substance, the Court swiftly and crushingly rejected Samsung's claims that the designs were invalid as being functional merely because minimalistic - quite correctly, IMHO. However, some aspects were functional and this limited the scope of the designs.
The iPhone designs were thought likely to be valid over Samsung's evidence, and also likely to be infringed. The iPad design, however, was held likely to be invalid over a 1994 Fidler/Knight-Ridder tablet device, which had also featured in the Netherlands litigation. Had it been valid, it too was also likely to be infringed. There were some interesting comments on the case law post-Egyptian Goddess (see postings passim) including the "crowded field" effect in narrowing the scope of designs hemmed in by close prior art.
There was also an interesting side issue on the use of broken lines. The '087 patent indicated that these were to disclaim part of the product, whereas the '677 made no such statement. The Court followed authority to the effect that in the absence of a clear indication to the contrary, dashed line portions could be taken into account as part of the design, but held that in this case, it was likely that the '677 patent intended to use them as a disclaimer.
For readers who wish to know more, there is an excellent analysis of the case in "Apple v. Samsung: Intelligence on Apple’s U.S. Design Patent Offensive" C. V. Carani, BNA’s Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal, 82 PTCJ 906, 10/28/2011. A copy (seemingly non-licensed) is on Docstoc if your conscience and your legal code permit you to use it.