At the ITC, Administrative Law Judge E. James Gildea, who issued a preliminary ruling on Friday clearing Apple of infringement of four Samsung patents, has pushed back the deadlines in the investigation of Apple's second ITC complaint against HTC by 20 days. The related complaint was filed last year, and a trial took place last month. As a result of this scheduling order, his initial determination will now be due on November 27 (instead of November 7), 2012, and the final decision, which could be an import ban, will be due on March 27 (instead of March 7), 2013.
Two of the four Apple patents presently at issue in that investigation are among the three multitouch software patents a California jury found infringed by Samsung's Android-based devices: the '381 rubber-banding patent (over the European equivalent of which Apple just won a German injunction against Motorola) and the '915 pinch-to-zoom-related programming interface patent.
Judge Gildea explained in his order that he "will be presiding over back-to-back evidentiary hearings [i.e., trials] between September 21, 2012 and October 26, 2012". Between now and the original deadline for this initial determination (November 7), he would have had less than three weeks of time available for drafting the initial determination. He anticipated this scheduling problem. When he made his original scheduling decision, he already cautioned everyone that "[his] docket for mid-2012 is particularly crowded".
As I explained on other occasions, including this recent post, HTC has so far benefited a lot from the slowness of U.S. patent litigation. Apple sued HTC in March 2010 (its first Android patent infringement action here), and more than 30 months later, only four of Apple's asserted U.S. patents have come to judgment. Apple prevailed on one of them and is appealing the ITC's dismissal of its claims based on the other three.
In July, HTC won a declaratory judgment ruling concerning four Apple patents in the UK. Tomorrow, the Munich I Regional Court will hold trials on two of Apple's German patent assertions against HTC. I will attend. The related first hearings did not go particularly well for Apple.
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