Thursday, March 7, 2013

UK judge declines Samsung's job offer, invalidates three 3G standard-essential patents in Apple case

Samsung has now officially failed to prevail on 25 standard-essential patent (SEP) assertions against Apple (including eight patents it withdrew and one case that was stayed in Germany because the patent was deemed likely to be invalid). Today Justice Floyd of the Chancery Division of the High Court of England and Wales ruled on three Samsung SEP assertions against Apple and declared all three patents invalid. Last week Samsung lost its 22nd SEP assertion against Apple (in Japan; for details on the ruling see this post). Samsung has prevailed on only three of its SEPs (two in Korea, one in the Netherlands). With a hit rate of less than one out of eight it's still less unsuccessful than Google's Motorola Mobility, which won only one of its ten SEP cases against Apple.

Samsung had sued Apple over three allegedly UMTS-essential patents in the UK. Apple denied these allegations and brought counterclaims for declaratory judgment. Apple's counterclaims succeeded: Justice Floyd declared all three patents-in-suit invalid (this ruling affects the enforceability of these European patents only in the UK, not in other European jurisdictions):

  • EP1714404 on an "apparatus and method for allocating OVSF codes and I/Q channels for reducing peak-to-average power ratio in transmitting data via enhanced uplink dedicated channels in WDCMA systems":

    "[T]he 404 patent as proposed to be amended is invalid both because it has lost priority and is accordingly rendered invalid by intervening prior art (on the basis of Samsung's concession) and because it is, in any event, obvious. If it had survived these attacks, it would have been infringed by Apple's accused, HSUPA enabled devices."

  • EP1005726 on a "turbo encoding/decoding device and method for processing frame data according to QoS":

    Justice Floyd determined that this patent "a) is not entitled to the priority claimed, and is therefore invalid based on Samsung's admission, b) if entitled to priority, would nevertheless have been invalid for obviousness over both Bömer and Valenti, c) if valid, would have been infringed by Apple's UMTS compliant devices."

    Samsung also lost a case over this patent in Mannheim, Germany.

  • EP1357675 on an "apparatus and method for channel coding and multiplexing in a CDMA communication system":

    This patent "a) is not entitled to the priority claimed and is therefore invalid on based on Samsung's admission, b) if entitled to priority, is invalid for obviousness over TS 25.212 v 2.00, c) would be valid if entitled to priority and amended in accordance with Samsung's application to amend."

Samsung had already withdrawn its requests for injunctive relief over SEPs on a Europe-wide basis in December but continued to seek damages for past infringement. After today's ruling it's not entitled to any remedies in the UK. It will likely appeal these decisions.

Samsung's dismal track record with its SEP assertions against Apple undermines its outrageous 2.4% royalty demand.

Not only has Samsung lost more than two dozen SEP assertions against Apple but it's also been unable to enforce any non-SEP anywhere in the world. Most recently a Samsung lawsuit against Apple's voiceover feature (which matters a great deal to blind and vision-impaired users) was stayed.

Justice Floyd appears unlikely to follow in Sir Robin Jacob's footsteps and work for Samsung as an expert witness in USITC investigations. (The first part of the headline was half-joke half-serious -- Samsung's decision to enlist Sir Robin Jacob, retired Lord Justice, as a paid expert witness only a couple of months after he ruled in its favor is sort of a job offer to other judge ruling on its patent cases.)

The ITC has a deadline later today for a final ruling on Samsung's request for a U.S. import ban against Apple. But the ITC was closed yesterday due to weather conditions, making a postponement a possibility.

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