Saturday, August 25, 2012

Court may postpone hearing on Apple motion for preliminary injunction against Samsung

Following the Apple v. Samsung jury verdict I just published and commented on, the key issues for the court to address will be

  • whether the jury must be overruled in some ways (as a matter of law), which is especially what Samsung wants;

  • whether any (and if so, which) parts of the damages figure must be tripled because of Samsung's willful infringement; and

  • whether Apple will be granted a preliminary injunction barring Samsung from the sale of infringing products in the United States (a permanent injunction would issue at the end of the litigation, but including appeals this could take a while, which is why a preliminary injunction is what Apple needs for this verdict to have near-term impact on Samsung's competitiveness).

Injunctive relief can only be granted by a judge, not a jury. After the verdict, the court discussed with the parties the possible time line for post-verdict proceedings. Apple had already announced in a filing a few weeks ago that it was going to seek a preliminary injunction, so this was no surprise -- nor can anyone be surprised that Samsung will exhaust all of its options for an appeal, starting with Rule 50 motions in hopes of Judge Koh overruling the jury in at least some ways. The Rule 50's will have to be adjudicated before a decision on injunctive relief.

While Judge Koh said in court late on Friday that a preliminary injunction hearing could take place on September 20 (she couldn't offer any earlier date), she later issued the following notice:

The Court is reconsidering the briefing and hearing schedules regarding Apple's post-verdict preliminary injunction motion, the parties' Rule 50 motions, and Apple's enhancement motion. By Monday, August 27, 2012, Apple shall file a 1-page chart identifying both the products for which Apple is seeking preliminary injunctive relief and the liability finding(s) on which the request as to each product is based. No argument is permitted. Depending on the scope of Apple's preliminary injunction request, the Court may continue [i.e., postpone] the briefing and hearing schedule on Apple's preliminary injunction motion.

In other words, September 20 may not work out given the number of issues in the case. This order obviously seeks to encourage Apple to limit its requests for preliminary injunctive relief to the most pressing issues, but I think it's quite possible that Apple will seek injunctive relief based on all of the intellectual property rights that the jury deemed valid and infringed, even if this may result in a bit of a delay.

We'll know soon whether or not the September 20 date for the preliminary injunction hearing must be postponed. If it is, we at least won't be surprised.

Apple and Samsung have more than 50 lawsuits going on in ten countries on four continents. It's not always easy to find out when and where the next hearing or trial will take place. Based on the information that is available to me, the next trial will take place in Mannheim, Germany, on September 14, over a 3G/UMTS-essential Samsung patent.

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