updated 04:04 pm EDT, Fri August 9, 2013
If victorious, Apple will leverage ruling into sales block of more products
Earlier today, a three-judge panel heard an appeal from Apple on a permanent injunction of sales on selected Samsung phones, previously denied by Judge Lucy Koh in the first groundbreaking smartphone patent trial between the manufacturing giants. At stake is not only an embargo on the mostly obsolete phones listed in the original complaint, but Apple's ability to seek bans rapidly for newer phones that Apple also deems infringing.
The discussion today primarily centered on whether Apple is able to prove that a single feature of a smartphone is a source of consumer demand. The earlier decision ruled that Apple wasn't entitled to the injunction without proving that a complex device like the iPhone could rely on a single feature to drive sales. Apple argued that such a high bar would make sales bans on infringing products virtually impossible to achieve, opening the door for no-risk and widespread infringement of patents.
Of concern to the appeals panel is the nature of a permanent ban on a technological device over a single feature that may belong to a different company. Samsung claims that 23 out of 26 of the phones involved in the litigation are no longer available, with the remaining three re-engineered to remove infringing technologies or design features. Apple claims that new phones including the Galaxy S III and Galaxy S4 rely on the same features found infringing in this case.
Apple lawyer William F. Lee argued that Samsung willfully and blatantly developed an Android clone of the iPhone, knowing full well what it was doing from the beginning. Samsung attorney Kathleen Sullivan argued that paying monetary compensation to Apple should be an adequate remedy for any infringement, and that an embargo wasn't necessary. Samsung was fined more than one billion dollars for its infringement of numerous Apple patents, but a portion of the award was set aside by Judge Koh until some specific damages can be re-calculated, which may change the final amount. The final amount will still not be paid to Apple until all appeals are exhausted.
No ruling was issued after today's hearing. A written decision is expected in the future, but no specific date was given. Previous rulings on technology embargoes by this panel have taken as few as five days, but as long as two months.
The court has the option of upholding Judge Koh's initial ruling of no embargo, but also can dismiss her ruling in its entirety. Regardless of what the appeals court rules, a future appeal could still be made by either company to the Supreme Court.