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Apple, Samsung Back in Court

Published: December 6, 2012 | 7:57 am
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Companies Battle Over $1.05 Billion Damages From Patent Trial’s August Verdict

Apple Inc. AAPL -6.43% and Samsung Electronics Co. 005930.SE -0.07% return to a Silicon Valley courtroom Thursday, as Samsung fights to get a federal judge to throw out or soften a $1.05 billion patent judgment against the Korean company.

The companies and their lawyers plan to petition U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh to reverse issues that didn’t go their way in a jury verdict issued in August. During the hearing in San Jose, Calif., the companies are expected to squabble over the damage award, which ranks among the largest ever in cases involving intellectual property.

Samsung argues that hundreds of millions of dollars should be shaved off of the total damages, which Samsung has yet to pay. In a motion to the court, the company argues that the jury used some incorrect legal standards in determining the amount.

Apple, meanwhile, is seeking $535 million more, given the jury found that Samsung infringed Apple’s patents willfully.

Another main event is whether any Samsung products that the jury found infringed Apple patents will be taken off the market.

Apple is asking for 26 Samsung products to be banned, including older models of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy smartphone and tablet.

Many products are several years old and their disappearance wouldn’t mean much financially for Samsung, which has also developed modifications for some software features to avoid infringing the Apple patents.

But an injunction could give Apple more ammunition in the global patent war between the companies, which shows little sign of slowing down.

Apple has won victories in the U.S., with the San Jose ruling and a favorable preliminary ruling in the International Trade Commission. Samsung has fared better outside the U.S.

This summer, a U.K. judge ruled in Samsung’s favor, saying the company didn’t illegally copy the iPad. The two companies have also been fighting in Germany, South Korea, Australia and elsewhere.

Apple, which sued Samsung in April 2011, recently made peace with HTC Corp. 2498.TW -2.12% with a global patent settlement. But people familiar with the matter say Apple and Samsung, the world’s two largest smartphone makers, are likely to continue their fight.

Samsung has said it would appeal the decision, which could delay Judge Koh’s rulings from being implemented and keep the case open for years.

The HTC settlement could complicate Apple’s push for injunctions, some lawyers say, by suggesting that Apple can be compensated in ways besides an injunction.

Brian Love, an assistant professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, says he would “expect [Judge Koh] to apply the law very strictly” given that the appeals court recently overturned a preliminary injunction on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus phone she granted in a different case between the companies.

But Samsung’s argument that some damages were improperly calculated was “strong,” he says, noting that different types of intellectual property require different damage-calculation methods. “Some of the damages awards appear to be legally incorrect.”

Judge Koh, who has been considering each side’s motions on these issues for weeks, could rule on any of them before during or after the hearing.

She kept both sides on a tight leash during the trial and frequently urged both parties to move things along. Which issues she will seek to hear oral arguments on Thursday remains unclear.

Samsung is also pushing for a new trial on the grounds of juror misconduct. The company alleges that jury foreman Velvin Hogan, a retired software engineer, didn’t disclose during jury selection that he was once sued by Seagate Technology, STX +4.31% a Samsung partner.

The company also claims that Mr. Hogan’s comments to reporters after the verdict raise the possibility he gave jurors bad advice about how to apply the law. Apple argues in a motion that Samsung doesn’t meet the standard for a new trial and that Mr. Hogan “never failed to answer a question truthfully.”

Some lawyers following the case say Samsung’s juror misconduct case faces long odds. “I don’t think this will go anywhere but Samsung has to put forward anything they possibly can,” says Christal Sheppard, an assistant professor of law at the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Mr. Hogan didn’t return a request for comment.


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