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Each of the smartphones at issue was designed and manufactured with technology flowing from hundreds of patents. One of the patents, for instance, was for the Apple “pinch-to-zoom” feature that Samsung incorporates in several of its products.

Koh said it would be wrong to prohibit sales of the three Samsung smartphones because the devices contained just a few features ripped off from Apple.

“”Though Apple does have some interest in retaining certain features as exclusive to Apple,” Koh wrote, “it does not follow that entire products must be forever banned from the market because they incorporate, among their myriad features, a few narrow protected functions.”

Stanford University law professor Mark Lemley said Koh’s decision has the potential to “radically change the calculus of patent suits in the information technology industries.”

The decision is part of a legal trend to punish patent violators with damages rather than ruinous sales injunctions “in cases that involve large, multi-component products,” Lemley said.

Koh has yet to rule on Samsung’s plea to reduce the jury’s award by as much as $600 million and on Apple’s argument for an increase of more than $100 million.

Koh has indicated she was leaning toward trimming tens of millions from the $1.05 billion award, saying it appeared the jury miscalculated some of the damages.

McKenna said there’s a chance Koh could significantly reduce the award based on her ruling Monday that said Apple failed to prove the infringing patents hurt its sales.