How many times have you heard the following statement before? “You may have thought you had heard the last of the Samsung and Apple patent war“. Assuming this is not your first time hearing this, you have probably already grown tired of this story. Although the conclusion is not as nearly as close as it should be. It is (slowly) moving towards one. It was over four and a half years ago when the battle (in court) between Samsung and Apple began. However, in August of this year the battle did close the first episode of the overall saga. Apple won two of its (major) cases and was awarded close to $1 billion in compensation. In reality, the second case was somewhat of an embarrassing win for Apple with them only being awarded a fraction of what they had asked for. Since then, Samsung has (obviously) appealed and Apple have (obviously) counter appealed Samsung’s appeal. In terms of these appeals a ‘Final’ judgement is expected sometime in December. What is of interest (at least for today) is that the next chapter of lawsuits has already began. These are not appeals, but instead are already based upon the outcome of the ‘final judgement’ we are still waiting upon. Apple scorned by their lowly royalty compensation for the infringements that Samsung have already been deemed to have broken (mostly in reference to the Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S2 and S3) are looking for future royalties. In short for all the times Samsung’s future actions will breach the same Apple patents.
As you would expect with the might of Samsung’s legal representation, Samsung have managed to muster a whole wealth of reasons as to why Apple are not entitled to future royalties. Unfortunately for Samsung though, it seems the Judge did not agree with any of them today. Samsung tried to suggest that ‘ongoing royalties’ are not the same as accounting for damages. However, the judge did not see how one would effect the other and instead of one replacing the other agreed Apple could pursue both. Another reason given was Apple had applied for these ‘new’ royalties outside the timeframe set out in previous court agreements. Again, the judge did not agree stating the timing of Apple’s request was not “untimely”. Samsung also tried to suggest that Apple did not request for future damages when originally requesting (or being awarded) backdated royalties. However, the judge once more argued the request by Apple had been “implicitly included”, due to the original requests referring to an “all Samsung infringement”. In a change of tact, Samsung also applied for a Stay on the future royalties case due to the ongoing wait for the final judgement in the other case. Again, the judge stated that she did not see any reason as to why both cases could not be contested at the same time. Samsung tried to suggest that they no longer infringed on any patents (even entering into evidence sworn declarations from Samsung engineers) and therefore future patents were irrelevant. Apple though, argued that Samsung did not have any proof (beyond declarations) that infringement was not still occurring. Unfortunately for Samsung, the Judge again agreed with Apple.
In short, in all the creative efforts Samsung employed to evade the situation-at-hand, the judge denied Samsung in every instance. Eventually concluding that Apple was indeed entitled to future patent infringement compensation. That said, it is unlikely ( at least for now) that Apple will financially benefit from this ruling. Firstly, the judge was not so quick to offer any actual financial value to the verdict. Instead deferring to the original Jury award amounts from the first case. Secondly,the judge also added that future royalties could not be enforced (in any sense) until after the final judgement of the previous case was concluded. To recap (and to avoid unnecessary confusion) the judge today in California did agree and award Apple the right to compensation for future patent infringements. In spite of this seemingly conclusion to the newest case and with the history of Samsung and Apple repeatedly fighting on the back foot (through appeals). It is still not so clear if this judgement will actually be a final judgement (in this case). Within hours of the Judge’s ruling today, Samsung had already appealed the latest decision. For now though, the news is that Apple has at least won the latest battle in the ongoing war.