UPDATE 1-U.S. court clears Samsung phone, deals blow to Apple


(Adds details on running trial, industry significance)

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals courtoverturned a preliminary injunction on the sale of SamsungElectronics Co Ltd's Galaxy Nexus smartphone onThursday, dealing a blow to Apple Inc in a battle against GoogleInc's increasingly popular mobile software.

Apple is waging war on several fronts againstGoogle, whose Android software powers many of the Korean giant'sdevices. In one of the more visible signs of that battle, ahigh-wattage trial to determine whether Samsung's productsinfringed on Apple patents ended in August with a sweepingvictory for the iPhone maker.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled thatthe district court in California "abused its discretion inentering an injunction." The appeals court has sent the caseback to a lower California court for reconsideration.

The Nexus is an ageing product in Samsung's lineup, with aplethora of new tablets and smartphones intended for launchbefore the holidays. But overturning of the pre-trial ban is aslap across the face for Apple because the patents in the Nexuscase - which involve software-enabled features such asclick-to-zoom and so on - are directly related to features ofAndroid, which powers the majority of the world's smartphones.

On Wednesday, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt calledthe intensifying struggle between Apple and his company a"defining fight" for the future of the mobile industry.

"We've not seen ... competitive fights on this scale," hesaid during an interview with tech blog AllThingsDigital at NewYork's 92nd Street Y.

(Reporting By Diane Bartz; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick,Bernard Orr)

((Diane.Bartz@thomsonreuters.com)(1 202 898 8313))