Samsung to Ask SC to Reverse Tide in Apple Case

Samsung last week filed a motion to stay the U.S. Court of Appeals’ order in its multiyear patent war with Apple, indicating that it plans to take the case to the United States Supreme Court.

Samsung will ask the Supreme Court to hear its appeal of a 2012 federal jury’s verdict that it violated Apple’s iPhone patents, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The motion followed the court’s week-earlier decision to deny Samsung’s request to reconsider the US$548 million in damages it was ordered to pay.

Samsung has received support for its position from large Silicon Valley firms including Facebook, Google, Dell and HP.

Patently Problematic

The latest decision in the Apple v. Samsung case followed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s nonfinal ruling that a patent issued for the design of the iPhone was invalid on several grounds.

That patent, known as “D’677,” describes the rounded edges of a smartphone’s shell.

The USPTO ruling may have strengthened Samsung’s resolve to continue its legal fight.

“The PTO finding likely did affect Samsung’s decision,” said Derek Bambauer, a professor of law at the University of Arizona.

“However, given the length of the fight and the amount of the award, a petition for certiorari was inevitable,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

The issues Samsung raises in its motion “appear even more pressing in light of the doubtful validity of the D’677 patent, but they are serious issues for the industry either way,” remarked intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller, who blogs atFOSS Patents.

Money, Money, Money!

Following a jury’s 2012 decision that it had infringed Apple’s patents, Samsung was ordered to pay $1.05 billion in damages. The possibility was open for Apple to ask for triple that amount.

U.S. District Court judge Lucy Koh in 2013 slashed the fine to $598 million, on the grounds that Apple had sought damages from the moment its products were launched, rather than from the day it filed its legal complaint.

Adjustments were made in other hearings, leaving the issue of monies owed murky, but what Samsung earlier this month asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to review were damages in the amount of $548 million.

Legal and Other Issues

The multiple grounds for the USPTO’s rejection of the D’677 patent “up the ante for Apple, because it must overcome all of those objections or the patent will be revoked,” Mueller told the E-Commerce Times.

Samsung has got the support of many high-tech firms because “unapportioned infringer’s profits, regardless of the potential insignificance of a design patent infringement, would have terrible consequences in some fields,” he pointed out.

For example, an auto manufacturer might be held responsible for its entire profits from a car model if that model contained just a tail light that infringed a patent, suggested Patently-O.

“Imagine what would happen if someone demanded a disgorgement of unapportioned profits made by companies like Facebook, Oracle or because of a single icon,” Mueller said.

Feeding the Patent Trolls

Demands for overly high damages could cripple the technology industry as they’d further encourage patent trolls, warned Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“It would be ironic if Apple won and was then buried in what would then be far more successful patent troll cases,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“Their win here could actually turn out to be a massive liability strategically,” he said. On the other hand, “it might drive Congress to finally act on patent reform in order to protect the U.S. tech industry.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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