Apple Allowed to Pursue Jelly Bean, Galaxy S III Ban, Samsung Can Target iPhone 5
November 16, 2012 12:15 PM
Got to ban them all
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
's San Jose courtroom
Judge Paul S. Grewal
has ordered that warring smartphone makers Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) and Apple, Inc. (
) be allowed to dramatically expand their lawsuits by including nearly all of each others current product.
I. Round Two Set, With iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III Ban Requests Added
Round one of the battle in California U.S. District Court when resoundingly to Apple. Initially,
Judge Lucy Koh
moved to dismiss the case, but in a somewhat unusual outcome a three-judge panel at the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
[PDF] Judge Koh to reconsider tossing the case. Judge Koh subsequently allowed Apple to take Samsung to trial, and in a stunning outcome the jury -- some of whose family members were Apple shareholders -- found Samsung
guilty of $1.05B USD
in damages. Apple was found innocent of Samsung's infringement claims.
In the wake of that stinging ruling Apple looked to capitalizing, looking to
triple the damages to $3B USD
on the grounds that the jury found the infringement to be "willful" and non unintentional.
The Samsung Galaxy S III
But that round of the battle, which is still ongoing, only deals with last generation devices. A second, newer case was filed by Apple in February target the Galaxy Nexus (which at the time was one of Samsung's flagship designs). Apple alleged that the Nexus infringed on eight of its patents. Samsung, as with the previous suit, filed a counter-claim, alleging the iPad infringed on eight of its own patents.
In recent weeks both companies have looked to pile on new claims to that second suit, asking Judge Grewal to refresh it to contain their rival's current products.
The iPhone 5
Samsung asked to
add the iPhone 5
to the case and have the jury rule on new infringement claims. Apple sought
a far bigger expansion
, adding a general claim covering all devices running Google Inc.'s (
Jelly Bean operating system
(which in turn covers 17 stylus based products) and the
Samsung Galaxy S III
, Samsung flagship phone. Samsung balked at Apple's request arguing that it covered far many products.
Ultimately Judge Grewal
with Apple's claim that it was valid to tack on a broad range of devices, despite the time involved, although he did offer Samsung a bit of good news by approving its iPhone 5 addition to the counterclaim.
II. Smartphone War Has Mostly Been a Stalemate
So far the smartphone between Apple and Android smartphone makers has been largely a stalemate, thus far. Apple did dent HTC Corp.'s (
) sales with
a month long seizure of shipments
, but it ultimately settled up with Android phonemaker into
a long-term IP licensing deal
failing to secure more bans
Technically, Google-owned Android phonemaker subsidiary Motorola Mobility and Apple are still at war, but their case has gone nowhere. The pair's suits/countersuits have been dismissed with prejudice
but three times
from different federal courts.
As for Samsung v. Apple, despite the big jury loss, virtually no Samsung products have been banned from sale. Judge Koh recently struck down
the ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1
(the precursor to the Note 10.1), as the jury found it did not infringe on
U.S. Design Patent D504,889
, a design patent which depicted a bulkier button-less early iteration of the iPad, nicknamed by some the "fat iPad".
Many Android smartphones have escaped Apple's ban hopes.
While Judge Koh did acknowledge that the Tab 10.1 was found to infringe on Apple user interface patents, she argued that was insufficient to ban the handsets.
Judge Koh had put in place a preliminary injunction on the Galaxy Nexus, pending the outcome of the second trial
back in June
. But in early October the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
that ban as well, arguing that Apple's arguments regarding Samsung's supposed infringements were flawed and demonstrated a lack of understanding about the workings of Android.
While the $1B USD jury verdict was a blow for Samsung, considering the company is pulling in
a cool profit of $7.4B USD
per quarter, the impact shouldn't be too big, even if it holds up on appeal.
III. Samsung May be Forced to Pay More, But Bans are Unlikely
The Apple versus Samsung conflict, the last of the major lawsuit battles to appear to have some life left, also happens to be the most pivotal for both Android and Apple. Samsung is by far the biggest smartphone maker, and is ahead of Apple in unit sales. It is also the only smartphone maker to common anywhere close to Apple's gawdy margins (though it still makes much less profit).
The most wild outcome, with the additions would be for the nation's two best-selling phonemakers to have all their current product banned from sale. (An outcome that would surely please some like HTC and Nokia Oyj. (
More likely there will be few if any bans, based on past cases. But the time-consuming case may lead to another billion dollar verdict.
In the last some jurors had family members who were Apple shareholders.
[Image Source: SomanyMP3s]
Apple has a distinct advantage in that the case is being tried in a local court, with jurors selected from a relatively affluent region, where many people are either Apple shareholders or have family members who hold Apple stock. Judge Koh in the previous case said it would be fine for jurors to have family members with large amounts of Apple stock, as she did not see that as an unacceptable bias.
Amidst that outcome, the most likely outcome may be that Samsung is forced to pay another "licensing fee" sort of sorts -- a billion dollard dent -- but is unlikely to see substantial product bans, given Apple's unwillingness to license Samsung patents covering relatively
trivial and ubiquitous software features
(some of which are in the early stages of invalidation) or design features (like the rectangle).
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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