updated 01:58 am EST, Wed January 30, 2013
Ruling will save Samsung billions, but still guilty and liable to Apple
Late on Tuesday, Judge Lucy Koh issued a handful of new rulings in the ongoing resolution of the first Samsung vs. Apple patent-infringement trial, which Apple won with a jury finding of willful infringement and a liability ruling of just over $1 billion. In a surprise move, the judge overruled the jury's finding of willfulness, saving Samsung a possible tripling of damages under US law. Samsung, however, lost its challenge to the jury findings overall, with Koh denying vacating motions and a proposal for a retrial.
The jury's verdict of August 24 of last year was kept largely intact, despite Samsung's challenge as to the foreman of the jury. As was widely expected, this line of inquiry went nowhere and Judge Koh rejected all Samsung's claims on the matter, preserving the overall verdict. Though Apple had hoped for a tripling of damages as a punitive measure, the bar was set sufficiently high that the judge ruled that Samsung had relied on their theory that the patents were invalid in good faith, and thus overruled the jury's finding that the infringement of Apple's patents was willful.
Koh also denied Apple's motion for enhancements in damages for trade dress copying by Samsung, letting stand the jury awards for that. In the trial, Samsung had also charged Apple with patent and trade dress infringements, but these were entirely tossed by the jury in the first trial. Koh denied Apple's motion for a new trial on aspects of the jury's decision on which it did not prevail, but also shot down Samsung's invalidity theories on one of Apple's software patents and four of its design patents. She has not yet ruled on Samsung's motion to adjust the damages award, but her preservation of most of the jury's findings signals that Samsung is unlikely to get a significant reduction or elimination of the $1.05 billion dollar award.
Apple is thus likely to ask the court for ongoing royalties for continued use of the infringing patents by Samsung, since it was denied a permanent injunction on the infringing products, says patent trial analyst Florian Mueller. The ruling leaves Samsung without any victories in any of the cases it has pressed against Apple, despite innumerable rulings.
The judge found not only Samsung's US entities to be guilty of infringement and copying Apple's designs, but the parent South Korean company guilty as well. She also reiterated a lack of any support for Samsung's original claims in the trial to be validated and the jury's finding reversed on them.
Overall, Koh's ruling is another near-complete victory for Apple, reaffirming all of Apple's claims in the trial and again denying all of Samsung's claims. The new ruling and the remaining judgements on whether Samsung will get a new trial specific to adjusting the awarded damages does not affect the second Apple vs. Samsung trial, which challenges the validity of another set of patents as well as Apple's charge of SEP abuse against Samsung, which could have more serious ramifications if Apple continues its winning streak. That trial is scheduled to start in March of 2014.