Apple, Samsung Settle Patent Litigation


On June 27, 2018, Apple and Samsung settled their patent dispute.

A dismissal filed in Delaware ended a small chapter of the Apple/Samsung patent war. The docket in that case included only 18 items and the case had been stayed since August 2011 after Samsung brought patent infringement claims against Apple to the U.S. International Trade Commission. The dismissal terminating the Northern California case ended the much more contentious portion of the patent battle between these two companies. The dismissal is the penultimate filing in that case which involved a total of 3,956 docket entries filed with the district court alone.

The Northern California dismissal had the result of denying as moot various motions filed by either Samsung or Apple which were still pending at the time that the parties entered into the settlement. These included a motion filed by Apple for supplemental damages, pre-judgment interest and post-judgment interest, which was filed only on June 7th. This motion followed the district court’s previous ruling that an award of supplemental damages was necessary to compensate Apple for infringing sales not considered by the jury. The calculation of the supplemental damages award took August 25th, 2012, as the date from which to begin the calculation; this date was the day after the first jury verdict was entered in the case. Apple’s entitlement to supplemental damages was reiterated by the district court after a damages retrial that occurred in 2013. Apple argued in its motion that Samsung had waived any right to challenge Apple’s entitlement to compensation for additional infringing sales and that Samsung had admitted to continuing to sell six infringing models after the August 2012 jury verdict.

Another motion rendered moot by the Northern California dismissal is Samsung’s motion for an entry of judgement of invalidity on Apple’s claim for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7844915, titled Application Programming Interfaces for Scrolling Operations. Samsung made this motion on the grounds that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had affirmed a final rejection of claim 8 of the ‘915 patent in a validity proceeding which played out at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). By denying Apple’s claim for infringement of the ‘915 patent consistent with the Federal Circuit’s holding on validity, Samsung would have avoided nearly $146 million worth of damages either wholly or partially attributable to infringement of the ‘915 patent. That’s a significant portion of the more than $548 million partial judgement entered by the district court in September 2015, following a previous remand from the Federal Circuit in this district court case; the partial judgement was upheld on appeal to the Federal Circuit in October 2015. The damages award for infringement of the ‘915 patent includes more than $113 million for lost profits on 10 products sold by Samsung. This award depends solely on infringement of the ‘915 patent as Apple did not seek lost profits for any other utility patents. Another $31 million in reasonable royalty damages on 11 products would have also been rescinded because, although the court found that the products infringed multiple patents, the jury adopted a damages model submitted by an Apple expert witness on damages which attributed a portion of the royalties specifically to infringement of the ‘915 patent. In the alternative, Samsung’s motion argued for relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6), which covers grounds for relief from a judgement, based on the Federal Circuit’s finding of invalidity of the ‘915 patent claim.

Samsung’s post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law was also rendered moot by the dismissal. Samsung had made this motion based on the grounds that no reasonable jury could have found that: any of Apple’s asserted design patents was applied to Samsung’s entire accused products; that Apple’s U.S. Patent No. D604305, titled Graphical User Interface for a Display Screen or Portion Thereof, applied to anything more than to the smartphones’ display screens; that Apple’s U.S. Patent No. D618677, titled Electronic Device, applied to anything more than to the smartphones’ glass front faces; and that Apple’s U.S. Patent No. D593087, also titled Electronic Device, applied to anything more than the smartphones’ glass front faces with bezels. These particular points related to findings made by the U.S. Supreme Court in its December 2016 decision in Samsung v. Apple that, in the case of a multicomponent product, the relevant article of manufacture for arriving at a damages award for patent infringement could be found to be only a component of the end product sold to consumers.

In response to the settlement between Samsung and Apple, Christopher Loh, partner at Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, offered the following comment:

“One of the questions raised by Samsung’s post-trial motions is whether the jury properly could have found that Samsung’s phones, in their entirety, were the relevant ‘articles of manufacture’ as to Apple’s GUI design patent. In view of the settlement, it will be up to other litigants and other courts to answer that question.”

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