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Ban temporary lifted: Galaxy Nexus available again, but only until Apple responds

July 9, 2012

A U.S. appeals court has temporarily lifted the ban on the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The smartphone is now available again directly from Google via its Play Store. However, the reprieve might be short lived, as the court said the stay on the injunction will remain only while it considers Apple’s arguments. The court gave Apple until July 12th to respond.

This latest decision is part of a bitter battle between Apple and Samsung (and indirectly Google) which started in 2010 when Apple started suing Samsung for “slavishly” copying the iPhone; naturally Samsung counter-sued, and so a war began. As part of the conflict, each company is digging deep into its patent treasure chest and is accusing the other of violating its  patents.

Initially, Google was a partner of Apple and provided different Internet services for Apple’s iOS devices. These included maps and setting Google as the default search engine for Safari. However, Apple didn’t appreciate (to say the least) Google’s move into the mobile operating system sector and its development of Android. Since then, the two companies have been drifting apart. Apple recently released its own mapping technology for iOS 6, which doesn’t rely on Google’s technologies.

The story is similar with Samsung. A large number of the components needed to make the iPhone and iPad come from Samsung, most notably the flash memory and RAM. Apple spends billions of dollar every year with Samsung, and yet the two are embroiled in a bitter battle. Riding on its bad feelings for Google, Apple sees Samsung’s success with its mobile phones as copycat work by the Korean company.

Although the war is actually about the bad blood between Apple, Samsung and Google, this particular battle is about the ‘quick search’ functionality of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which shows results for applications on the phone, contacts in the address book, as well as results from the Internet. This unified search is something Apple claims it invented and it has a patent to prove it.

Google is working hard in the background to prepare Android 4.1 Jelly Bean for the Nexus, which will contain a workaround removing the search functionality that Apple claims is covered by its patents.

At the same time as issuing the temporary reprieve for the Galaxy Nexus, the court did however uphold the decision to ban sales of Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet.