In my recent update on Supreme Court patent cases I skipped over a new Samsung v. Apple petition since one Samsung v. Apple case has already been granted a writ of certiorari. Although both cases involve smartphone patents, they are entirely separate procedurally.
- Already Pending: Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. v. Apple Inc., No 15-777 (design patent damages calculation) (certiorari granted, merits briefing ongoing), appeal from Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., 786 F.3d 983 (Fed. Cir. 2015)
- Newly Filed: Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. v. Apple Inc., No 15-1386 (vacating injunction mooted by later opinion) (petition filed), appeal from Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., 809 F.3d 633 (Fed. Cir. 2015).
The new case itself involves a pair of appeals: In a 2015 decision, the Federal Circuit found that an injunction against Samsung to halt infringement was proper under the eBay standards. The first case did not, however, reach the merits issues involving patent validity and infringement. Then, in February 2016, the court reversed the jury verdict and held that all of the asserted claims were either invalid or not infringed.
The decision on appeal here is that first injunction decision that, up to now, the Federal Circuit has not expressly vacated (even though the underlying basis for the injunction has now been proven not to exist). Thus, in its petition, Samsung asks simply that the Supreme Court vacate the Federal Circuit’s decision. Question presented:
Should the Court grant the petition, vacate the judgment below, and remand to dismiss the appeal as moot, in accordance with United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U.S. 36 (1950), where the Federal Circuit’s opinion requiring a permanent injunction is mooted by a later Federal Circuit opinion eliminating all basis for liability by holding two of the three patents at issue invalid and the other one not infringed?
The one big caveat here is that an en banc petition is still pending on the merits side and therefore is not moot. The petition merely glosses over this issue without offering any explanation as to why the Supreme Court shouldn’t just wait for the outcome of the en banc petition. Of course, Samsung understands all of this – and likely would have delayed the filing were it not for the looming deadline for its petition filing. [SamsungInjunctPetition] To me, it seems that the Federal Circuit panel in the still pending validity/infringing case would permit a motion for stay of relief pendant lite.
Apple’s En Banc request in the merits case (validity/infringement) is in the midst of briefing. Apple’s basic argument is that the appellate panel unduly substituted its judgment for that of the jury:
After a thirteen-day trial and three-and-a-half days of deliberation, a jury found that Samsung’s smartphones infringed three Apple patents, confirmed the validity of Apple’s asserted patents, and awarded damages of nearly $120 million. The issues on appeal were primarily factual and subject to deferential substantial evidence review. Yet, in an unprecedented decision, the panel reversed nearly every aspect of the verdict that favored Apple. The panel reached that result by deciding the case on a different record than the jury had before it, and by shifting Samsung’s burden to prove invalidity to require instead that Apple prove validity.