Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Supreme Court petition 15-777 (Samsung v. Apple) closely watched by IP lawyers, relisted for this Friday

Earlier this month (on Friday, March 4), the Supreme Court of the United States already had Samsung's December 2015 petition for writ of certiorari (request for Supreme Court review) in Apple's design patents case on its agenda. It's nothing unusual for a case to be relisted, and it happened in this case. There was no weekly conference last Friday, so this cert petition will be discussed this week, and we'll know the decision (unless there's another relisting) on Monday morning.

Samsung received unusually broadbased support for its petition, which definitely buttressed the electronics giant's claims that the issues in the case--damages (disgorgement of unapportioned infringer's profits) and claim construction (functional elements not to be considered in infringement and validity analysis)--are of concern to the high-tech industry and other parts of the economy, and not just to Samsung (Apple has already collected half a billion dollars in damages on a questionable basis).

Last month, Samsung reinforced its petition with a reply brief that argued the law of the smartphone should not follow reflexively from the law of the spoon.

It's always been clear that this petition raises some extremely important issues. Apple's lwayers obviously had to try to downplay its certworthiness, but independent observers who have commented on the petition have all deemed it interesting (at least the part on disgorgement of an infringer's entire, unapportioned profits).

The fact that Samsung's petition is certworthy has been confirmed by two recent posts on key IP blogs:

  • The SCOTUSblog's Relist Watch:

    "The big new relist this week is Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple, 15-777, which we're guessing is being closely watched by the IP crowd."

    That's a verys safe guess. Not sure this can even be described as a guess.

  • Wegner's Writings on the Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association's (LAIPLA) blog:

    "The petition has a higher than usual chance for success."

In other Apple-Samsung news, patent analytics firm Lex Machina has published a new report that once again confirms Apple and Samsung are the top targets of patent troll lawsuits. Finally, I agree in principle with Vivek Wadhwa's recent opinion posted on the Crunch Network (Techcrunch). He believes Apple and Samsung should end their dispute, and notes that "patent litigation, such as what Apple resorted to, rarely does the world any good."

If you'd like to be updated on the smartphone patent disputes and other intellectual property matters I cover, please subscribe to my RSS feed (in the right-hand column) and/or follow me on Twitter @FOSSpatents and Google+.

Share with other professionals via LinkedIn: