Apple wins $1.05 billion verdict

By Dennis Crouch

Apple v. Samsung (N.D.Cal 2012)

The jury must have read my recent post on Monsanto's $1b verdict and wanted to do one better – awarding Apple $1.05 billion in patent infringement damages.

Apple has won its patent case against Samsung and the nine-member jury has awarded $1.05 billion to the iManufacturer. The jury has also rejected Samsung's countersuit – finding the Samsung patents not-infringed.

Samsung's infringement is identified as "willful" – opening the door to potential punitive damages against Samsung. In patent cases, the judge (here, Judge Koh) is given the responsibility of determining whether to award punitive damages based upon a set of factors outlined in the law. In this case, the statute would limit potential patent damages to three-times the damages calculated by the jury. (The trade dress damages are not so limited).

Apple has also asked for an injunction to stop Samsung's ongoing infringement. However, US patent law places the decision on injunctive relief in the hands of the district court judge. The briefing on injunctive relief will take several weeks and Judge Koh has announced a September 20 hearing date. Judges have discretion to grant/deny injunctive relief based upon the four "eBay factors" defined by the US Supreme Court in 2006. When granting injunctive relief, the judge also has discretion to shape the relief as she sees fit. Some courts have issued broad injunctions that essentially say "stop infringing the patent" others issue much more narrow orders directed only toward the particular products that are adjudged to infringe. The reality is that Samsung has been planning for the likelihood of injunctive relief and is surely ready to stop selling any of the infringing products and replace those products with ones that at least have not yet been adjudged as infringing. Apple has another lawsuit pending against Samsung focusing on Samsung's newer handheld devices.

If an injunction is issued, a big question is whether relief will be stayed pending appeal. An adjudged infringer generally has no right to continue infringing while the case is on appeal. However, courts will stay injunctive relief when the stay prevents great potential harm and/or the appellant has a strong case on appeal. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Apple will NOT receive the $1 billion damages until after the appeal is complete. However, Samsung would be required to post a "supersedeas bond" that may be to be set by the court, but will certainly be several hundred million dollars. During the appeal or any other delay in payment, the damages will collect interest.

Next Steps: Samsung has two basic shots at overturning the jury verdict. First, the company can file a motion for judgment against the verdict (JNOV) arguing that the jury verdict goes against the weight of the evidence. Although I do not have specific numbers, it is not uncommon for judges to at least partially reject a jury verdict in complex cases such as this. Based upon what I have read of the case, I believe that Judge Koh is unlikely to alter the jury verdict. Anyone researching this point should consider Judge Koh's history of JNOV motions. If Samsung's pleas to the court fail, the company can appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In that appeal, the odds are also with Apple. On this note, Samsung has announced that it will follow my strategy outlined above. In a press release, the company wrote "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."

Notes:

21 thoughts on “Apple wins $1.05 billion verdict

  1. The test for design patent infringment is: “if, in the eye of an ordinary observer, giving such attention as a purchaser usually gives, two designs are substantially the same, if the resemblance is such as to deceive such an observer, inducing him to purchase one supposing it to be the other, the first one patented is infringed by the other.” Gorham Co. v. White, 81 U.S. 511, 528 (1871).

    You are welcomed to patent A box with concave corners, but you can’t patent ALL boxes with concave corners.

  2. “If it is not clear to you, I have no problem with the Apple’s claim under 101, so I am not sure why you are talking to me here. Nonethess, my response: the invention is the claim as whole. As such it should not be picked it apart and put it back under 101. If you do so, there is a danger for willy nilly characterization of what the invention is.”

    Very good! Okay then we are in agreement. While it may seem like common sense to follow the law as written, you should know that it is standard fare on this blog to conflate the categories by bringing 102 and 103 into 101.

    One can never be too vigilant in explaining this to certain members of the blogs vocal minority and apparently some members of the judiciary.

  3. I’m not sure anyone would regard Northern California juries and judges as biased one way or another with respect to Apple. Northern California is a big place, not a provincial and corrupt sinkhole like East Texas. And don’t forget, it was a California court that twenty years ago threw out Apple’s copyright suit against Microsoft based on the claim that Windows copied the Macintosh GUI.

  4. If it is not clear to you, I have no problem with the Apple’s claim under 101, so I am not sure why you are talking to me here.
    Nonethess, my response: the invention is the claim as whole. As such it should not be picked it apart and put it back under 101. If you do so, there is a danger for willy nilly characterization of what the invention is. IMHO, that’s what Judge Mayer did by characterizing the whitserv claim as providing reminder for due dates and the computerizing is merely post activity solution. No, the invention as whole is providing due dates through computer, which is freaking obvious and may be too broad, but not 101 invalid.

  5. >>Apple has a 7th Amendment constitutional right to a jury.<<

    Well, it is more complex than that. The jury trial right is circumscribed the rules of “common law”. So issues of law are resolved by the court and issues of fact are to be determined by the jury. Determining the demarcation point between those two concepts is the trick. Judge Posner may have looked at this same case (Apple v. Samsung) rather differently as to whether the issues at bar were questions of law that he could dispose of without a jury.

  6. Fei Shen said…
    Hmm, Samsung should appeal that Apple’s pinch&zoom is 101 invalid because pinch&zoom is a well known concept and Apple’s patent merely took that concept to a post-activity solution.

    How is a radio not a post-activity solution to a well-known concept of talking to peopel in a public forum. That concept went much beyond than the time when attorney using manual docketing system (really? this is what prompted the opinion?), the Greeks knew it, the Chinese knew it, the persians knew it. History professors will soon find a new job as expert witnesses. What’s so great about broacasting talking using radio waves?

    How is TV not a post-activity solution applied to theater, a well-known concept?

    At the end of the day, what is abstract and not abstract? Why minimize an effort as post activity solution while that effort defined 20th century.

    Reply Aug 25, 2012 at 01:30 PM
    101 Integration Expert said in reply to Fei Shen…
    “Hmm, Samsung should appeal that Apple’s pinch&zoom is 101 invalid because pinch&zoom is a well known concept and Apple’s patent merely took that concept to a post-activity solution.”

    If Apple can prove it’s patent is an application of it’s concept and the concept is “integrated” in the process, there is no post solution activity .

    This is why Diehr received his patent, and Steven’s Post Solution Activity dissent failed. See Prometheus referencing Diehr on Integration.

    “”The Court pointed out that the basic mathematical equation, like a law of nature, was not patentable. But it found the overall process patent eligible because of the way the additional steps of the process “integrated” the equation into the process as a whole.” (12 MAYO COLLABORATIVE SERVICES v. PROMETHEUS LABORATORIES, INC. describing Diehr. Opinion of the Court) Emphasis added.”

    Reply Aug 25, 2012 at 04:51 PM
    fshen said in reply to 101 Integration Expert…
    “How is the concept of talking to another integrated in the process of transmitting voice using analog signals, i.e. raido? Is radio not patentable subjuct matter? These terms just open the door for willy nilly characterization of what’s invented.”

    Well, first of all how do you know that is the “Concept” of the invention?

    Remember the “Actual Inventors” define the concept, not you or the Judge.

    Second, you completely skipped the “application” part of the concept. If Apple just stated a concept and left it at that, Samsung would have a slam dunk abstract idea pre-emption argument and the fight would be over at 101.

    Finally, the best way to determine “Integration” is use the The USPTO Guidelines on “Integration Analysis”.

    For example, do the claim include additional elements/steps or a combination of elements/steps that “integrate” the concept into the claimed invention such that the concept is practically applied, and is sufficient to ensure that the claim amounts to significantly more than the concept? (Is it more than a general idea + the general instruction to simply “apply it”?) Seee 2012 Interim Procedure for Subject Matter Eligibility Analysis of Process Claims Involving Laws of Nature. ( Emphasis added)

    The USPTO Guidelines at #4 provide an example of how Diehr’s claims are “integrated” and therefore are an “inventive application” of the equation that is the focus of that patent.

    “4. This claim would pass Inquiries 1-3 in the above analysis as it is a process that includes the Arrhenius equation as a limitation, with additional steps that “integrate” the Arrhenius equation into the process and are sufficient to narrow the scope of the claim so that others are not foreclosed from using the Arrhenius equation in different applications.” link to uspto.gov

    In conclusion, my recommendation to you Fei Shen, is to apply the above analysis to Apple’s claims as well. Then see what the results are. That’s the most professional, intellectually honest, and objective way to proceed on 101.

  7. “Can someone explain it to me that why there was a jury trial for such a complex case?”

    Apple has a 7th Amendment constitutional right to a jury.

  8. I feel sorry for Samsung.

    I hope they take it all the way to the Supremes.

    A design patent on a box with rounded corners?

    Really?

    I had a 1973 Volvo which was a box with rounded corners until someone backed into it in a parking lot.

    Can I get a design patent on a box with concave corners?

  9. Can someone explain it to me that why there was a jury trial for such a complex case? I means Apple is a California based firm (sadly they cheat govt of california by siphoning off all the profits and not pay any taxes) and the Jury was chosen from California. Samsung is a company head quartered in South Korea. No jury from California will go against apple (even though Apple has not created any jobs in California, by outsouring all manufacturing to China, Korea, and Japan).

  10. Posner dealt with these or very similar patent in the Motorola suit. He all but laughed at Apple’s damages theories. In the end, he nonsuited Apple.

    We are going see a major conflict in the two cases on damages when both read the Federal Circuit. This is shaping up also as Supreme Court material.

  11. A comment in the technical press bemoaned what they saw as the gaming of the patent system to protect a “rectangle with rounded corners”

  12. Hold collective breaths: I’m the good ole USA, we have a unique patent appellate court that has bestowed upon itself to review claim construction ( and everything else) de novo.

    The absurdity is that the Liberal Arts majors sitting on the CAFC have no problem construing scientificly complex claims even though the judges often have zero training to understand the science (so their law clerks write the opinions after being told which way to go based on the judges’ artsy-fartsy reaction).

    But, ironically, here we have some Design patents calling for the kind of subjective assessment Libs like to do.
    These are old Samsung models. Since Apple apparently has no hardware claims and Samsung has modified it’s designs, keep tuned!

  13. No. Samsung unsuccessfully challenged various claims on novelty, obviousness, & written description. Design patents were challenged for “lack of ornamentation” which is kind of like a 101 challenge.

  14. Dennis:

    Did Samsung, as part of it’s defense, seek to invalidate Apples patents under 101 for being non statutory subject matter?

    Since that seems to be the issue of the day on this bog it would interesting to know,

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