Apple has just been granted a preliminary injunction on the sales of Samsung’s popular Galaxy Nexus handset here in the U.S., based on possible patent infringement. The ruling comes just a week after the company won a similar injunction against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablet…

The decision comes once again from U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, and involves a total of 4 patents: The ‘647 patent, which Apple used in its ITC victory against HTC. The ‘721 patent, which covers the ‘slide to unlock’ feature. And patents ‘172 and ‘604.

It sounds like the primary reason for the injunction is the ‘604 patent, which involves unified search functionality. FOSS Patents explains:

“Apple and its lawyers convinced Judge Koh that the Galaxy Nexus likely infringes all four of the patents asserted in the preliminary injunction motion, and that all four of them are likely valid. But in the United States, injunctive relief is granted only if monetary damages are insufficient to make the right holder whole, and if other requirements are met. Courts apply the four-factor eBay v. MercExchange test.

Apple’s motion passed that test with respect to the “Siri patent”, a patent on unified search. It must be a huge disappointment for Google to lose this lawsuit over a search patent.”

The injunction goes into affect as soon as Apple posts bond, which is rumored to be in the neighborhood of $96 million. The money will go to Samsung in the event that it wins the case, to help it recoupe its losses from the sales ban.

Samsung will obviously appeal the ruling, as it has already done with last week’s decision. In fact, Judge Koh is expected to rule on Sunday night regarding Samsung’s motion to stay the Galaxy Tab 10.1 injunction.

As frustrating as the last two weeks have been, Samsung’s not in any real danger (yet). The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been out for almost two years now, and the Galaxy Nexus was released late last fall.

Now, if these injunctions spill over into the company’s latest handset, the Galaxy S III, that would be a real problem. Especially with the holidays now just a few months away.

[TheNextWeb]