Thursday, August 2, 2012

Judge prohibits invalidity arguments based on 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tomorrow People

Judge Lucy Koh just entered an order on three Samsung motions, all of which sought to modify earlier rulings relating to the evidence Samsung may present at the trial that started on Monday. Two of the motions ask for relief from orders by Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal, while the third motion asks for "clarification" of parts of Judge Koh's order denying all of Samsung's summary judgment requests.

The bottom line of today's order is that Samsung didn't improve its position in the slightest. Its motions for relief were denied because Judge Grewal's decisions were not "clearly erroneous". One of them related to the belated production of designaround source code, while the other had to do with a striking of very significant parts of Samsung's expert reports. Clarification of Judge Koh's own summary judgment order with respect to Samsung's right to make certain arguments was provided, but there's nothing really positive in it for Samsung except that evidence of designarounds for the '381 ("rubber-banding") and '163 ("tap to zoom and navigate") patents "[m]ay be [a]dmissible post trial in determining any injunction". But even this isn't an improvement of Samsung's position. It's hard to imagine that the court could enter an injunction that declares a designaround infringing (and prohibited as a result of the injunction). An injunction can always just serve the purpose of preventing further infringement -- not non-infringement -- of a given intellectual property right.

In order to "aid the parties", Judge Koh provided a table that summarizes the admissibility of certain key pieces of evidence. Interestingly, Samsung is not allowed to use pictures from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey movie as a prior art reference against Apple's iPad-related design patent (click on the image to enlarge):

Here's Judge Koh's explanation:

"For example, Samsung referenced clips from 'Space Odyssey' and 'Tomorrow People' in its opposition to the preliminary injunction in a general discussion of the background of the field. Samsung did not, however, argue that these references supported an invalidity or non-infringement theory. That Samsung changed tack after the close of fact discovery to include these references in their invalidity theories likely prejudiced Apple, who was not made aware during the preliminary injunction proceedings that Samsung intended to rely on these two prior art references for invalidity."

Samsung is noticeably unhappy about some of Judge Koh's decisions. This order won't lighten its mood. But there's no reasonable basis for blaming Judge Koh, who made a lot of effort to explain in detail the rationale behind her decisions.

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