Friday, September 18, 2015

Judge enters partial final judgment for Apple against Samsung -- Samsung said it would appeal

For the factual background of this Apple v. Samsung matter, I would like to refer you to my previous post on this one and just sum it up like this: two key Apple patents underlying the 2012 and 2013 jury verdict against Samsung have serious validity issues, one of them even at a rather advanced stage of proceeding, but the Federal Circuit had not held those patents invalid and Apple, on that basis, requested entry of partial final judgment.

Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has just denied Samsung's motion for judgment as a matter of law on the '915 patent as well as Samsung's alternative request for a stay, and has entered the following partial final judgment for Apple to the tune of $548 million (this post continues below the document with a quote from a previous Samsung filing announcing an immediate appeal):

15-09-18 Partial Final Judgment Over 548 Million Dollars by Florian Mueller

In preparation of a hearing held a few hours ago, Judge Koh had asked Samsung whether it would, in the event of partial final judgment for Apple, use a bond posted back in 2012 to make a payment. Samsung replied as follows (in a supplemental case management statement):

"Samsung objects to the entry of partial final judgment and, were such judgment entered, would appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(1), arguing, among other things, that the judgment is not authorized by Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). See, e.g., Unitherm Food Sys. v. Swift-Eckrich [...]. Because Samsung's existing supersedeas bond [...] remains in effect, during Samsung’s appeal any partial final judgment would remain secured by the bond or any modified bond that the Court may approve, and execution of the judgment therefore would be automatically stayed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 62(d). If any partial final judgment were affirmed on appeal, Samsung would satisfy that judgment when it becomes executable and then move to release the bond."

It will be interesting to see how the Federal Circuit now addresses the issue that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has changed its mind and believes it shouldn't have granted Apple the '915 patent in the first place. The D'677 iPhone design patent is also deemed invalid on the current basis, at an earlier stage of proceeding.

It's disappointing that Apple is trying to collect money (partly) over patents it doesn't even rightfully hold based on the USPTO's current analysis. Over all these years Apple struggled to achieve a breakthrough in its patent spats with three major Android device makers (HTC, Motorola, Samsung), but recently U.S. courts, especially the Federal Circuit, have handed down some controversial decisions that may give Apple some leverage in forthcoming settlement talks. However, that leverage has its limits: it's not like Apple could prevent anyone from selling highly functional Android-based multitoch smartphones in the U.S., and it remains to be seen what comes out of those recent decisions in the months ahead. Apple is closer than ever to actually receiving a payment, but it's not there yet.

I've said repeatedly that this thing should finally be settled, but I have no idea whether those rulings make it more likely to work out (because a settlement at this stage would make Apple look stronger than it could have expected at any time since the spring 2014 trial) or less likely to happen (because Samsung and other industry players may see a pressing need to get clarification on some key legal issues, such as how to deal with patents deemed invalid by the patent office or on the value of design patents).

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