updated 02:58 am EDT, Tue September 11, 2012
Jury found that Samsung tablet infringed software, not design, patents
Apple filed a motion late Monday to extend the preliminary sales injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the US while that particular aspect of the case is being appealed, a move designed to head off any attempt US District Court Judge Lucy Koh may make to dissolve the injunction based on the findings of the jury. In the recently-concluded trial, one of the jury's few nods to Samsung was a finding that the tablet, which has been banned in several countries due to its violation of design patents, infringed on three software patents but did not infringe on Apple's design patents.
Judge Koh had requested that both Apple and Samsung file papers debating whether her preliminary injunction automatically expires upon the entry of final judgement, or whether the appeal of the injunction affects such dissolution, and whether either party contests her authority to rule on the injunction while it is being appealed. While both Judge Koh and a higher Court of Appeals have both issued rulings favoring Apple's position, both came before the jury trial -- and the judge may want to adhere to the jury's findings.
Both Samsung and Apple are seeking to change parts of the jury's rulings. Samsung, which lost all its counterclaims and was found guilty of copying Apple's software and design patents willfully, wants almost the entire verdict thrown out. Apple, the clear victor in the case, seeks primarily only to complete its sweep by having the one significant area where the jury found in favor of Samsung -- that its Galaxy 10.1 tablet did not copy Apple's iPad design -- changed.
Even though Apple has less that it wants to change, getting Judge Koh to agree to overrule the jury on any points in their decisions is likely to be an uphill battle, second only to Samsung's desire to see almost all of the verdict reversed. At best, Apple is likely only to convince the judge that she can't dissolve the injunction prior to the case's appeal being heard. Even then, it may not be able to dissuade her from issuing an "indicative ruling" noting the jury's ruling in Samsung's favor, which it can use during the appeal of the injunction.
Assuming the judge decides that she has the authority to act on the matter before the appeal of the injunction has been heard, she can opt to dissolve it completely (which would trigger an appeal from Apple), keep the temporary injunction in place and effectively punt the decision to the appeals court, or convert it into a permanent injunction (overruling the jury finding on this point). Samsung may have made the decision slightly easier by filing for a 60-day extension before it will even make it's opening arguments in the appeal, a move that the judge could use to rule that the injunction stays in effect until at least the appeal arguments actually begin.
Apple may opt to argue that the jury finding that the Galaxy Tab (and other products) did infringe on three software patents may hold more sway in its attempt to keep the product off the US market. While Samsung could work around the software patents, the injunction requires that Samsung's tablet be more than "colorably different" from the iPad, meaning that simple workarounds may not be sufficient and that the software must be entirely reworked to avoid the patents, which would effectively keep the tablet out of the US market for the remainder of its likely product life, notes patent law analyst Florian Mueller.
A hearing on the matter is schedule for September 20 in Judge Koh's court. A later hearing is scheduled for December to determine whether the jury's findings on the other infringing Samsung products means that they will be subject to US sales bans, a likely outcome given the scope and willfulness the jury found in Samsung's copying. [via Florian Mueller]