Judge Boxes Ears of Both Parties in Apple-Samsung Lawsuit

Both Apple and Samsung, which have been locked in lawsuits in the United States and abroad, won a little and lost a little in their hearing before Judge Lucy H. Koh in San Jose, Calif.

On Monday, the judge denied Samsung’s request for a retrial seeking to reduce the US$1.05 billion in damages a jury had awarded Apple in August for infringement of some of its patents.

Koh also ruled against Apple’s motion for a permanent injunction on some Samsung products that infringed its patents.

“We are pleased that the judge denied Apple’s move to limit consumer choice, and restrict fair competition in the marketplace,” Samsung spokesperson Lauren Restuccia told the E-Commerce Times.

Money — It’s a Hit

“The Apple-Samsung litigation is about market share — who obtains the upper hand in this multibillion-dollar industry,” remarked attorney Raymond Van Dyke. The patent suits are a distraction, he continued.

The patent litigation is “over products that aren’t even relevant in the market because the market and products are evolving so rapidly,” Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research, told the E-Commerce Times.

Legal Pat-a-Cake

The case at hand began when Apple sued Samsung for patent infringement and won $1 billion in damages. Samsung countersued. Meanwhile, the two were also duking it out in Europe, Australia and elsewhere in the world, further validating the concept of the global village.

In October, Samsung filed a patent suit against the iPhone 5; in November, Apple retaliated by filing for permission to add six new Samsung products to its patent infringement lawsuit.

Along the way, Samsung filed to have the damages against it reduced, Apple filed to have them increased, and Samsung filed for a retrial mainly on the grounds that Velvin Hogan, the foreman of the jury, had tainted the trial by failing to disclose that he’d filed for bankruptcy in 1993 and had been sued by his former employer, Seagate.

The Latest Rulings

Koh found no evidence of bias toward Apple on Hogan’s part or that he was being deceitful during jury selection.

The judge refused Apple’s motion for a permanent injunction against some Samsung products that infringed its patents, ruling that it failed to show it had lost sales because of the infringement.

“Judge Koh is apparently taking some heat in that she’s reconsidering the extent of Apple’s win, particularly Apple’s request for an injunction against Samsung’s products,” Van Dyke told the E-Commerce Times. “As the damages theories coalesce in Judge Koh’s mind, she will likely steer some middle course, perhaps forcing the parties to settle their dispute.”

The Impact of the Rulings

Apple “would have likely used [the permanent injunction] as a way to set a precedent and go after products that are more current,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told the E-Commerce Times.

Losing its bid for the injunction would not have a great influence on Apple’s competition with Samsung “largely because the products at risk were either after, or nearly at, the end of their lives,” Enderle continued.

Even if Apple had won, the industry “changes so rapidly that any legal advantage a company may have will likely disappear in future product generations,” McGregor pointed out. “The lifecycle of those advantages is growing shorter and shorter.”

Samsung has already dropped its lawsuits against Apple in the EU. This move “perhaps signals an intent of another high-level settlement,” Van Dyke surmised.

Samsung “remains committed to licensing our technologies on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, and we strongly believe it is better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace rather than in court,” Restuccia stated. In this spirit, the company decided to withdraw its injunction requests against Apple “on the basis of our standard essential patents pending in European courts.”

Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

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