Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Samsung welcomes European Patent Office decision to invalidate Apple's touch flags patent

I have obtained a copy of a Samsung press release, dated February 4, 2014, saying that the company "welcome[s] [yesterday's] ruling [by the European Patent Office], which invalidated Apple's EP '948 utility patent". This must be a ruling in the first instance, and I assume Apple can still appeal this decision within the EPO. The patent in question is EP2098948 on a "touch event model". I knew about the recent EPO opposition hearing (by the way, the patent was also challenged by Google's Motorola Mobility) but didn't attend because Apple had not won any infringement ruling based on this patent anyway. In October 2012, a Dutch court that previously denied a preliminary injunction over this patent also sided with Samsung in the main proceeding. In September 2012, the Mannheim Regional Court cleared Samsung and Google's Motorola Mobility. Earlier that year, the England and Wales High Court deemed it invalid and additionally cleared HTC of infringement.

Samsung's press release notes that Apple had brought lawsuits over six other utility (i.e., technical) patents against it in Germany, none of which Apple has won so far (some were stayed and others dismissed, and there will be further validity proceedings and possible appeals). Samsung's lead counsel in its defensive German cases was Dr. Hendrik Timmann of the Rospatt Osten Pross firm.

The current score between these two parties in Germany is, with respect to utility (not design) patents, a "goalless draw" (soccer terminology). Samsung also asserted seven utility patents against Apple in Germany, including five it had declared essential to wireless industry standards. Its cases, too, were either dismissed or stayed. In its successful defense against all of Samsung's German infringement cases, Apple was represented by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer's Dr. Frank-Erich Hufnagel and Wolrad Prinz zu Waldeck und Pyrmont.

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