apple, samsung
A passerby photographs the Apple store logo with his Samsung Galaxy phone. (Reuters)

In a blow to Apple's legal battle against Samsung, a US court of appeals has overturned the ban on the South Korean smartphone maker's sale of Galaxy Nexus phones in the country.

Earlier, a California district court had ordered Samsung to pay $1.05bn (£652m) damages to Apple following a fierce legal fight. Samsung had challenged the court's decision and asked for a retrial.

The appeals court said: "Apple has presented no evidence that directly ties consumer demand for the Galaxy Nexus to its allegedly infringing feature."

It said the district court which ordered the ban "had abused its discretion in determining that Apple established a sufficient causal nexus" between the alleged harm and the violation of conduct.

Samsung welcomed the verdict, saying that it "confirms that the role of patent law is to protect innovation and not to unreasonably stifle competition and restrict consumer choice".

"We will continue to take all appropriate measures to ensure the availability of our innovative products," the company said.

However, Samsung's legal disputes with the iPhone manufacturer are set to continue in a number of countries.

Apple's battle against Samsung is also seen to be against Google, whose Android OS runs on the company's smartphones. The disputed features in Nexus phones, such as tap-to-zoom are linked to the OS.

Apple had also alleged that the Nexus had features similar to the iPhone's Siri, which the appeals court deemed insufficient to establish irreparable harm to the company.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt termed the legal spat between the two mobile phone giants as a "defining fight" for the industry.

"We've not seen... competitive fights on this scale," he said, in an interview with technology blog, AllThingsDigital.

Analysts also suggest that Apple's legal battles are an attempt to slow down the competition.

Speaking to the BBC, Manoj Menon, Managing Director of Frost & Sullivan, said: "The intensity of the competition is so high, that it is less about billions of dollars in fines but more about slowing the competition."

Samsung plans to launch a number of products by the Christmas holiday season and the verdict will help the company improve its sales in the US.