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U.S. court says won't expedite Apple appeal versus Samsung

By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Monday rejected Apple Inc's request to fast-track its bid for a sales ban on several Samsung Electronics Co Ltd phones, ruling the iPhone maker could not argue its case to the full appeals court right away.

A lower court judge had rejected Apple's bid for a permanent injunction following a blockbuster trial last year. In its ruling on Monday, the Federal U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., said a three-judge panel will first consider Apple's appeal, and the full appeals court would not decide whether to hear the case until after that.

Representatives for both Apple and Samsung declined to comment.

The fight in the appeals court comes after Apple won a $1.05 billion verdict last year against Samsung in a California trial court. Apple followed up its win by seeking a permanent ban on several older Samsung phones, but analysts expected Apple to try to extend such a ruling to Samsung's hotter selling models like the Galaxy S III.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, rejected Apple's request.

The fight between Apple and Samsung has been widely viewed as a proxy war between Apple and Google Inc. Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets run on Google's Android operating system, which Apple's late co-founder, Steve Jobs, once denounced as a "stolen product."

The Federal Circuit ruling on Monday allows Samsung to keep its products on store shelves while Apple's appeal proceeds on a slower pace. Brian Love, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Apple's request for immediate full court review was a long shot to begin with.

"In some sense, Apple was asking to 'cut in line,' and judges are generally reluctant to give certain cases special treatment," Love said.

The same appeals court had rejected a separate Apple bid for a pretrial sales ban against Samsung's Galaxy Nexus phone. Last week it refused to rehear that appeal before the full court.

The case in the Federal Circuit is Apple Inc. vs. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. et al., 2013-1129.

(Reporting By Dan Levine; Editing by Leslie Adler and Andrew Hay)

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