Feb 29, 2016

Apple Patent Claim Against Samsung Thrown Out

In the latest twist to the Apple v Samsung patent wars, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ("Appeals Court") has reversed the earlier decision of the District Court which had ruled in Apple's favour. For this round at least the litigation battle between the two heavyweights appears to have turned in Samsung's favour.

The Judgment

The Appeals Court found, in particular, that Samsung had not infringed Apple's '647 patent, which covers quick links technology and, further, that Apple's '721 patent - the "slide to unlock" patent – and Apple's '172 patent – the "word completion" patent – were invalid. In summary, on appeal, all of Apple's claims were dismissed but Samsung was successful in one of two counterclaims. The judgment, which can be found here, also covered various other issues relating to patents owned by the companies.

The decision will come as a huge blow for Apple, who had originally sought around $2.5 billion from the claim, though some say Apple "rolled the dice" by going to Court in the first place. In fact, the Appeals Court awarded costs to Samsung, which are yet to be assessed but are likely to be greater than the millions Apple will also be required to pay in damages relating to Samsung's counterclaim.

The benefits for Samsung will be wide-ranging in the market and extend far beyond the legal technicalities in question.

Apple's "slide to unlock" patent

Apple's "slide to unlock" patent has now been declared by judges in several countries to not be a patentable invention on the basis that it lacks an inventive step. We reported on the decision of the German Federal Court in August 2015, which involved a smart phone which, whilst not hugely successful by any means, was available around two years prior to Apple's release of the iPhone which included a similar invention.

Supreme Court Review of Apple's Design Patent

In a separate development, Samsung has filed a request – known as a petition for writ of certiorari - that the US Supreme Court review Apple's design patent for one of its iPhones. The design patent in question currently underlies a $540 million judgment against Samsung, who now claim the patent should not have been granted in the first place.

Apple has suggested that the design patent is not exceptional in nature and thus does not warrant the attention of the highest court in the US. However, five years into the litigation between the two tech-giants, the Supreme Court is due to review the matter on 4 March 2016.

in: Case Law, News, Patents

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