It appears the only place that Apple can win its lawsuits is the US. Tokyo District Judge Tamotsu Shoji ruled Friday morning that Samsung did not infringe upon Apple's patents. Apple sued Samsung last year in Japan, claiming the Galaxy S, Galaxy Tab and Galaxy S II infringed Apple's patent on synchronization, and sought 100 million yen in damages, according to court documents.
Jury overly confused with decisions it needed to make?
More and more complex patent law cases are being decided by juries, rather than judges. And juries tend to be more generous in the penalties awarded for patent violations.
"This case is unmanageable for a jury," Robin Feldman, and intellectual property professor at the University of California Hastings Law School, said before the verdict was announced. "There are more than 100 pages of jury instructions. I don't give that much reading to my law students. They can't possible digest it."
He may be right, in that the jury made several errors, one being a $2 million error that required them to be sent back into deliberations to fix that, and several other errors. Some are questioning the quickness of the verdict, especially in regards to the recent Rambus versus Micron case, in which the jury in that case took eight full weeks to deliberate and reach a verdict. The jury in this case arrived at its verdict after less than three days of deliberations, far swifter than many experts thought in view of the many complex issues. Alessandro17 points to an excellent article below outlining the many inconsistencies in this verdict.
"The trial is evidence of a patent system that is out of control," Feldman said. "No matter what happens in this trial, I think people will need to step back and ask whether we've gone too far in the intellectual property system."
Samsung has vowed to fight the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It will first ask the trial judge to toss the verdict. Failing that, Samsung will appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C., a specialized court that hears nearly all patent appeals.
Losing companies often appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which received 432 cases from the federal district courts in the 12-month period ending March 2011. The court reported that it reversed 19 percent of those cases, without differentiating between bench trials versus jury trials.
After deliberating for just for 21 hours and 37 minutes following the three week trial, the jury in the patent infringement lawsuit reached a verdict awarding Apple more than one billion (US) dollars in damages. This amount is less than half of the $2.5 billion that Apple was seeking, but a big win never-the-less for apple in the light of three losses in court around the world in as many months.
The jury decided Samsung did infringe on Apple's '381 bounceback patent with all 21 of its products in question. For the '915 patent on pinch-and-zoom, the jury ruled all but three of the devices listed infringed, and more damningly, found that Samsung executives either knew or should have known their products infringed on the listed patents.
The jury did not decide in favor of Apple regarding the Tab 10.1 and the iPad, mirroring an earlier decision by a judge in the UK who stated the Tab is 'uncool' and would not be mistaken for the iPad. The jury did however rule that Samsung's smartphones infringed on the iPhones design when it comes to Apple's contours on the back of the iPhone and its home screen GUI.
Apple is seeking a preliminary injunction against Samsung's infringing products and Judge Lucy Koh has set September 20th as a date for the hearing. Apple has until the 29th to file its motion, which Samsung will have 14 days to respond to, before Apple has two days to craft a response of its own. As expected, Samsung has indicated it will appeal the ruling. Wall Street Journal's Evan Ramstad tweets that it plans to file post-verdict motions to overturn the decision and if those are unsuccessful, it will take its case to the Appeals Court.
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Post trial statements from both companies:
We are grateful to the jury for their service and for investing the time to listen to our story and we were thrilled to be able to finally tell it. The mountain of evidence presented during the trail showed that Samsung's copying went far deeper than even we knew. The lawsuits between Apple and Samsung were about much more than patents or money. They were about values. At Apple, we value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy. We applaud the court for finding Samsung's behavior willful and for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn't right.
Today's verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices. It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies. Consumers have the right to choices, and they know what they are buying when they purchase Samsung products. This is not the final word in this case or in battles being waged in courts and tribunals around the world, some of which have already rejected many of Apple's claims. Samsung will continue to innovate and offer choices for the consumer.
Apple is 0 for 3 versus Samsung worldwide and 0 for 1 versus Kodak. Apple claims that Samsung copied the look and feel of the iPhone in its products as well as various technologies contained within.
Apple lost in the UK, in a judgment that forces Apple to publish on its website and in British newspapers that Samsung did not copy designs for the iPad. In fact, the judge called the Samsung products 'not as cool' as the iPad, and unlikely to be confused with Apple's tablet. The judge also described some differences between the form factors and the ease of use of the iPad which Samsung tablets do not posess.
Apple also lost in South Korea where they brought suit against Samsung on their home turf. While the judge ruled both in favor and against Apple, the only fine that was imposed was against Apple. The real impact in this case is that the products described in the suit can no longer be sold in South Korea. The product list includes the iPhone 4, the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Galaxy S II and the Galaxy Nexus. All last generation products, these devices are now missing from stores and electronic retailers in South Korea.
Apple also lost a patent case against Kodak earlier in the month when the judge dismissed the suit for being filed “unreasonably late”. Apple has filed a motion to reconsider while an appeal is prepared because Kodak is trying to sell those assets that are contested by Apple. The sale of the digital imaging patents that Apple has claimed is now being reconsidered by Kodak.
Sources for this story include CNET, The Verge, Evan Ramstad (Twitter), Reuters, AP, Reuters(Japan)
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