Concerns Regarding Invalidated Patents and Appeals Process in Apple v. Samsung Case

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied Samsung’s motion for a stay pending their appeal to the Supreme Court in their design patent case with Apple. Following this denial, Apple’s lawyers requested entry of a “partial final judgment” to request that the damages (other than those related to devices for which trade dress was also claimed and later found invalid) must be paid by Samsung now, rather than following the conclusion of the appellate process.

However, timing is everything.  Apple’s request for immediate payment of the damages award coincides with reports that one of the design patents under dispute in the Apple-Samsung case has been ruled invalid in a review process at the PTO.  This signals erosion in Apple’s overall legal foundation.

With Apple’s request for immediate payment, we once again see that the requirement to pay the full value of the product, unique to the design patent system, is being incentivized by the court system. Furthermore, if Apple is successful in their pursuit of the damages, it could set off a flurry of litigious behavior in this area that will have residual effects on consumers. The most ironic, and disappointing, development of all, however, may be if patents giving rise to the damages claim are ultimately invalidated by the very entity that should not have granted them in first place.

HLF has kept an eye on the case throughout its entirety, as the implications mean higher prices for all consumers, including the Hispanic population relying on inexpensive mobile devices, and less innovation for the technology sector at large. We hope to see Judge Lucy Koh stay any payment of damages until the process runs its course so that unfair damages awards do not harm consumers.