Very late on Friday, Apple and Samsung filed a stipulation with the United States District Court of California that narrows their second case in that district in advance of the trial scheduled to begin on March 31. Samsung agreed to dismiss without prejudice (i.e., it could reassert in subsequent litigation) three of its asserted patent claims. As a result, its offensive case at the upcoming trial involves one claim each from two non-standard-essential patents (claim 27 of the '449 patent and claim 15 of the '239 patent), but no standard-essential patents (SEPs) anymore. The asserted claims of the standard-essential '087 and '596 patents were withdrawn, as was claim 1 of the non-essential '239 patent.
Under the stipulation, Apple withdraws all of its counterclaims relating to Samsung's SEPs, including all FRAND counterclaims. I like the fact that the question of injunctive relief over SEPs won't come up in this litigation.
There's nothing in the stipulation that indicates why Samsung made this decision, but whatever the reason(s) may be, it's a good thing in my view. Samsung has already prevailed over Apple on SEPs in different jurisdictions (including at the ITC last year, though an import ban was ultimately vetoed). It makes sense for Samsung to focus on non-SEPs at the upcoming trial, and especially on its proven defensive strength.
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