A federal judge has rejected Apple’s request for a sales ban of Samsung mobile devices after a jury ruled that Samsung had infringed on six Apple patents. But the judge also rejected a Samsung request for a retrial due to alleged jury misconduct.
Apple was awarded $1.05 billion in damages in an August verdict against Samsung, in which the latter company was found to have violated Apple patents, many related to touch functions such as scrolling and zooming onscreen elements. In the wake of that verdict, Apple sought an injunction against the sale of 26 Samsung handsets and tablets in the United States. That request has been denied.
“This Court found … that Apple had not demonstrated irreparable harm from the likely infringement of the … patents,” US District Judge Lucy H. Koh wrote in the order. “The Court concluded that Apple had not explained how erosion of design distinctiveness actually caused any irreparable harm … The Court further found that though there was some evidence of loss of market share, Apple had not established that Samsung’s infringement of Apple’s design patents caused that loss.”
Much of the judge’s decision hinges on the notion of causality: “Apple must have lost these sales because Samsung infringed Apple’s patents.” That is, though Apple was able to show that it had lost market share in the smartphone and tablet markets since Samsung entered those markets, it was unable to prove that its loss of market share was directly linked to Samsung’s infringement of Apple patents. Furthermore, Apple was unable to prove that its patented features are what drives consumer demand for its products, which the judge noted also included many unpatented features.
As for Apple’s proposed injunction, Judge Koh decided that making Samsung’s products unavailable for sale to consumers would be “inequitable” since only certain features of those devices infringe on Apple patents. “The public interest does not support removing phones from the market when the infringing components constitute such limited parts of complex, multi-featured products,” she noted. “Apple has not established that the equities support an injunction. Accordingly, Apple’s motion for a permanent injunction is DENIED.”
Samsung didn’t fare as well with its own request of the court: The firm was seeking a retrial because of alleged jury misconduct and had argued that the jury foreman’s previous negative experience with Seagate, a Samsung partner, prejudiced his opinions. Samsung also complained about comments the juror made after the case had concluded.
“There is no evidence properly before the Court to require … a hearing,” Judge Koh wrote in a separate ruling. “Instead, the Court must apply the well-established presumption that the jury followed the law … Accordingly, Samsung’s motion for a new trial is DENIED.”
In a separate and unrelated development, Samsung said that it would withdraw standards-essential patent-related lawsuits against Apple in the European Union (EU) “in the interest of protecting consumer choice.” The suit had triggered an antitrust investigation centered on the fair licensing of these types of patents.
(See also my article "Samsung Says iPhone 5 Infringes on 8 of Its Patents.")