Bonum Certa Men Certa

Apple Discovers That Its Patent Disputes Are a Losing Battle Which Only Lawyers Win (Profit From)

Playing cardsRelated: In Apple/Samsung Patent Lawsuits Over Android/Linux, Only Patent Lawyers Are Winning (Again)

Summary: By pouring a lot of money and energy into the 'litigation card' Apple lost focus and it's also losing some key cases, as its patents are simply not strong enough

THE USPTO can grant however many patents it wants, but judges are under no obligation to honour these patents. As scholars recently noted, many patents are granted erroneously in order to inflate patent numbers (this became a problem at the EPO as well in recent years).

Yesterday we stumbled upon this new report from a reliable news site which said:

A federal judge handed a minor but significant legal defeat to Apple in its long-simmering patent dispute with Samsung on Thursday evening.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh agreed with Samsung that the South Korea smartphone manufacturer owes Apple about $6.4 million, but not the ongoing royalties to which Apple claimed it was entitled.

The order only settles a sliver of the overall patent fight, parts of which have climbed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.


This is about software patents and the award is without a shadow of a doubt exceeded by the legal bills; things become a lot more expensive when these cases reach the US Supreme Court -- something which may happen for design patents [1, 2]. As explained here yesterday, "patent experts [are] concerned about legal uncertainty surrounding design patent damages" in Apple v Samsung. Matt Levy, who used to write for CCIA, shows up again:

An Apple v. Samsung--far from the first, to put it that way--will be held in three months. The Engine panel discussion was not exactly a trial preview. The perspective was very high-level, including an outlook (by Matt Levy) as to what might happen after the trial. Mr. Levy believes the Federal Circuit will again take an exceedingly patentee-friendly position, and the Supreme Court will have to correct it again.

Nobody on the panel appeared to believe that the 19th-century unapportioned-disgorgement rule in 35 U.S.C. ۤ 289 is appropriate with respect to today's multifaceted technology products. However, the focus of the panel wasn't on advocating new legislation, though the subject did come up. It was more about the high degree of uncertainty surrounding not just the Apple v. Samsung re-retrial but presenting an issue to the industry at large.

[...]

Mr. Duan explained that design patent litigation isn't nearly as widespread as software patent litigation, but depending on what happens in Apple v. Samsung and other design patent damages cases, design patents could give rise to many lawsuits by patent trolls in the not too distant future.

Without a doubt, industry groups are concerned about the lack of legal certainty. One of the questions from the audience (toward the end of the YouTube video) came from the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).


As we pointed out earlier this month, SIIA supports PTAB. The above people are interested in improved patent quality.

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