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10.24.17

Let’s Hope That Apple v Samsung Puts an End to Design Patents Once and For All

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 8:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Zach Snyder patent

Summary: Apple and Samsung are going to court again and again, much of the time just to bicker/argue about stupid design patents like rounded corners

EARLIER this month we wrote about design patents being somewhat of a sham. That’s just patents creeping into a domain already properly covered by copyrights and trademarks (like computer programs already fully covered by copyright law).

We may never understand the minds of so-called ‘IP’ lawyers (they lump together trade secrets, patents, copyrights and trademarks), but one thing we understand is that they always pursue money for themselves. They even give bad advice to clients if that would potentially bring income (to the lawyers, not to the clients).

The media is currently full of reports (e.g. [1, 2, 3]) about the Samsung dispute with Apple — a dispute which goes half a decade back. The case is going to a jury — probably a jury that does not quite understand patents (they’re usually told buzzwords like “property”, “innovation”, “stealing” and so on).

Florian Müller was among the first few to write about it (CBS had beaten him to it, but he has the original documents). To quote Müller: “If one thought it appropriate to label a company’s in-house and outside counsel, collectively, a “Comeback Kid,” the term would surely apply to Samsung’s IP litigation group and Quinn Emanuel. Yesterday (Sunday), Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California determined that a new Apple v. Samsung trial on design patent damages, which Samsung had been fighting for in courts on both coasts of the United States since the 2012 verdict, is indeed going to happen.”

“It appears @Apple v @Samsung will never end. Judge Koh says today-Sunday!-that there will be another damages trial,” said this tweet which Müller had highlighted before he found and published the relevant documents.

What’s worth noting here is that it’s all about design patents and this case, if escalated high enough, can squash all design patents (similarly to Alice). To quote CBS:

Get ready for Apple v. Samsung round number… oh, forget it, we don’t remember, either.

Apple and Samsung will head back to district court for yet another design patent infringement trial. Judge Lucy Koh, in an order signed Sunday, has ordered the two tech giants to meet again in a courtroom to determine how much Samsung owes Apple for infringing three patents.

We hope that this case will put an end to design patents once and for all. Both parties have very deep pockets and can afford an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Speaking of Samsung, there’s this bunch of lawsuits coming from Japan. IAM said yesterday that “Hitachi unit Maxell Ltd filed five US patent suits this month following on the Huawei and ZTE campaigns it launched last year. The breadth of the companies and industries on the defendant side in this latest offensive suggest that a significant initiative is underway within the Japanese company to increase its licensee base and royalty earnings.

“Three of the new complaints (which I accessed using Lex Machina) target well-known companies in the mobile space. Suits against Blackberry, ASUSTeK Computer and Blu Products name a range of mobile, tablet and other devices accused of infringing patents which appear to be related to mobile phones and cameras.

“The other two defendants – Fandango Media and FOTV Media Networks – both operate online video streaming services. These suits involve patents directed to digital video recording and transmission.”

What is it about dying companies that compels them to be so litigious? Such is the nature of patents. It’s like an ‘insurance’ policy for when business runs dry and managers look for someone to blame (or sue).

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