Apple wins appeal reinstating $119M Samsung verdict

Keywords Courts / Patents

Apple Inc. won an appeals court ruling that reinstates a patent-infringement verdict it won against Samsung Electronics Co., including for its slide-to-unlock feature for smartphones and tablets.

In an 8-3 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said a three-judge panel was wrong to throw out the $119.6 million verdict in February. Instead, it ordered the trial judge to consider whether the judgment should be increased based on any intentional infringement by Samsung.

The decision Friday comes less than a week before the U.S. Supreme Court considers another case Apple had filed against Samsung. That case, to be argued Tuesday in Washington, focuses on how much Samsung should pay for copying patented designs for Apple’s iPhone.

Together, the two cases are the remnants of a global legal battle between the world’s biggest makers of smartphones that began in April 2011 and at one point spanned four continents.

In this case, Apple claimed that Samsung infringed patents for the slide-to-unlock feature, autocorrect and a way to detect phone numbers so they can be tapped to make phone calls. The bulk of the award, $98.7 million, was for the detection patent that the earlier panel said wasn’t infringed. The February decision also said the other two patents were invalid.

That was a wrong decision, the court ruled Friday, because it relied on issues that were never raised on appeal or on information that was beyond the trial record.

“The jury verdict on each issue is supported by substantial evidence in the record,” Circuit Judge Kimberly Moore wrote for the majority.

The opinion was a surprise — the court never announced that it would consider the case before all active judges prior to issuing the opinion. In a dissent, Circuit Judge Timothy Dyk objected to the full court opting to take on the case without allowing additional legal arguments, saying the majority opinion results in “profound changes” in the analysis of whether patents cover obvious variations of earlier ideas.

The three judges who objected to the majority opinion were the same ones who had thrown out the verdict in February.

Dyk said the panel “has continuingly expressed willingness, and indeed desire” to remove the information that the majority objected to, saying it wasn’t necessary to the original decision.

The Federal Circuit handles all patent appeals in the U.S., so its decisions have broad ramifications for how cases are handled in the courts and before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co, 15-1171, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

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