Apple v. Samsung (Fed. Cir. 2015) (SamsungSummaryAffirm)
Most recently in the patent battle between Apple and Samsung, district court Judge Koh awarded $550 million to Apple for based largely upon design patent infringement findings. That awarded followed immediately after the Federal Circuit’s 2015 remand to Judge Koh “for immediate entry of final judgment.” Samsung is again appealing the damages ruling, but meanwhile there remains the question of whether Samsung needs to go ahead and pay the money or can stay execution of the judgment.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow a party to stay payment of money damages (but not injunctive relief) pending appeal of a final judgment and upon payment of a “supersedeas bond.”
Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 62(d): Stay with Bond on Appeal. If an appeal is taken, the appellant may obtain a stay by supersedeas bond…. The bond may be given upon or after filing the notice of appeal or after obtaining the order allowing the appeal. The stay takes effect when the court approves the bond.
Here, Samsung requested that Judge Koh accept $600 million as the bond, but Apple objected – arguing that Samsung’s substantive appeal is frivolous. Because Judge Koh had not ruled on the bond request, Samsung filed an emergency appeal to have the Bond accepted. As part of its briefing, Apple also requested “Summary Affirmance” of the district court’s final judgment regarding the half-billion-dollar judgment.
In the appeal, the Federal Circuit has sided with Apple – not only refusing to grant the bond but also summarily affirming Judge Koh’s damages award (that was already subject to a prior appeal).
Summary affirmance is appropriate when “the position of one party is so clearly correct as a matter of law that no substantial question regarding the outcome of the appeal exists.” Joshua v. United States, 17 F.3d 378, 380 (Fed. Cir. 1994). We have reviewed the parties’ arguments and conclude that summary affirmance is appropriate.
The Federal Circuit had granted a temporary stay of execution of the award and indicated that the stay would continue for seven days and by that time Samsung must have paid the money or be in contempt of court (absent action from the en banc Federal Circuit court or the Supreme Court).
In all likelihood, Samsung will immediately (today or tomorrow) file a request for rehearing and the en banc court may agree with the adjudged infringer that the summary affirmance shortcut was too quick. In its briefing, Samsung wrote:
A motion for approval of a supersedeas bond is not … the proper vehicle to decide or even address the merits of an appeal. Indeed, Apple cites no decision permitting such an inquiry in this context, let alone one disapproving a supersedeas bond based on such an inquiry.
If it ever reached the merits, Samsung has indicated its planned appeal strategy on the following questions:
- Whether the PTO’s final decision* invalidating a patent-in-suit is entitled to collateral estoppel effect in a pending federal court case.
- Whether a district court my enter a partial final judgment that does not satisfy Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 54(b).
Absent en banc rehearing, those issues will not be addressed in this case.
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* The “PTO Final Decision” raised by Samsung refers to one of Apple’s infringed patents – No 7,844,915. That patent has been working its way through the third-party-requested ex parte reexamination process since 2012. Most recently, the examiner issued a final rejection of the asserted claims and that judgment was affirmed by the PTAB and Apple’s request for rehearing denied. The patent covers the “pinch-to-zoom” feature of Apple’s iPhone.