In the ever-raging war between Apple and Samsung, Apple has won the latest battle – to a very small degree. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has held that Apple is entitled to a very narrow ruling that prevents Samsung from using Apple’s technology in its products. The court noted that to rule otherwise would render the patent rights of inventors useless. The court specifically looked at the patent rights related to features in multicomponent devices.
The court’s ruling could have far-reaching implications with regards to how conflicts are resolved when it comes to multicomponent devices – which includes smartphones and tablets.
Essentially, the ability to stop an invention from being marketed and sold is extreme leverage that can certainly cause an increase in settlement valuations.
In the case at hand, Apple received a ruling that Samsung has in fact infringed on Apple’s federally registered patents for the “slide-to-unlock” feature, autocorrect function and the ‘quicklink’ feature.
Despite this finding, the trial judge did not go as far as to issue an order that would force Samsung to remove said features from its mobile phones. The court ruled that monetary damages would be sufficient.
While Apple argued that it may lose market share and suffer a damaged reputation if Samsung was not ordered to receive the features from its products, the court didn’t buy the argument.
The court ruled, in a 2-1 decision, that, “The right to exclude competitors from using one’s property rights is important. And the right to maintain exclusivity – a hallmark and crucial guarantee of patent rights deriving from the Constitution itself – is likewise important.”
However, the court also found that, “The public generally does not benefit when that competition comes at the expense of a patentee’s investment-backed property right. This is not a case where the public would be deprived of Samsung’s products. Apple does not seek to enjoin the sale of lifesaving drugs, but to prevent Samsung from profiting from the unauthorized use of infringing features in its cell phones and tablets.”
Essentially, the court determined that the specific features at issue in the lawsuit had an impact on consumer decisions to buy products – and that must be considered in deciding whether to block use of an invention. After considering that issue, the court did not block Samsung’s inventions.
Samsung had many supporters in its corner, including Google, LG Electronics Inc., etc. These companies filed their own supporting filings with the court arguing that a ruling for Apple could allow the owner of a patent to “unfairly leverage its patent for competitive gain.”
Presently, Samsung is appealing that portion of the court’s ruling ordering it to pay significant monetary damages to Apple.