SAN JOSE, California An Apple Inc lawyer said the iPhone and iPad maker may seek a legal order stopping the launch of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Galaxy S III phone in the United States later this month.
At a hearing on Thursday in a San Jose, California federal court, Apple (AAPL.O) attorney Josh Krevitt said the company could file for a temporary restraining order against Samsung as early as Friday.
"Once sales are made, the harm is irreparable," Krevitt said.
However, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said she has many other cases. If Apple decides to seek a restraining order, it would likely delay a July trial date over different Samsung (005930.KS) phones, as well as the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
"I cannot be an Apple v. Samsung judge," Koh said.
Apple sued Samsung for patent infringement last year, accusing the South Korean electronics maker of "slavishly" copying the iPhone and iPad. Samsung denies the claims and countersued.
Apple's comments on Thursday came a day after Samsung Electronics, the world's largest smartphone vendor, expanded its CEO's role to include oversight of corporate strategy across the entire Samsung Group - a conglomerate of more than 80 companies.
Choi Gee-sung, 61, spearheaded Samsung's ascension to smartphone and TV leadership and his elevation signals that the storied South Korean conglomerate is grooming its next leader.
Apple filed papers this week seeking to ban Samsung's new Galaxy S III, along with the Galaxy Nexus. Samsung has already booked over 9 million preorders of the Galaxy S III, which is set to be sold by carriers in the United States on June 21, Apple said in its court filing.
Samsung, however, argued that Apple should not be allowed to seek such a fast injunction against the Galaxy S III.
Samsung attorney William Price also said the technology covered by Apple's patents - such as auto-correcting typed text - are not responsible for sales of Galaxy phones.
"There is no advertising or marketing on these features at all" by Apple, Price said.
Samsung's Galaxy products run on the Android operating system, developed by Google. In addition to Samsung's legal team, several Google attorneys attended the hearing before Koh on Thursday.
Apple has also accused Google's Motorola Mobility unit of infringing its iPhone patents. However, a Chicago-based federal judge on Thursday tentatively scrapped a trial between those two that had been scheduled to begin next week.
"Neither party can establish a right to relief," Judge Richard Posner wrote.
In California, Koh did not rule from the bench on Thursday on Apple's request for an injunction on the Nexus.
The Samsung case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Apple Inc. vs. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. et al., 12-cv-630.
(Reporting By Dan Levine; Editing by Bernard Orr and Richard Chang)