Last week, the ruling in Apple's patent infringement lawsuit
was released. Once upon a time the public was captivated by things
like sensational celebrity trials. Now we have live-blogging of
patent infringement verdicts. Oh, for simpler times!
In case you missed it, in a landmark decision that is certain to
be appealed, Samsung was ordered to pay damages of over $1 billion
for multiple infringements of Apple's design and utility
patents for smartphones and tablets. The infringement ruling covers
trade-dress, design patents and utility patents including
user-interface functions such as the now familiar pinch-and-zoom
gesture, and the "rubberbanding" effect at screen
What does this ruling mean? Here are a few thoughts:
Experts have estimated that the average smartphone relies on 250,000 patented technologies that are
in-licensed from various device and technology manufacturers around
the world. While many patents are at issue in this lawsuit,
Apple's '915 patent (Patent No. US 7,844,915, Filing date: 7 Jan
2007) for pinch-and-zoom and related scrolling gestures was
central to Apple's infringement claims. Pinch-and-zoom has
become such an intuitive gesture that I've seen kids try and
perform it on the screens of portable DVD players and seat-back
TVs. This particular ruling will impact smartphone
and tablet makers who rely on Android. But it's
important to remember that this is not an appeal-level decision,
nor does it extend beyond the US, so time will tell how other
smartphone makers respond in Canada or globally.
The Android operating system would not offend Apple's
design and trade-dress rights (which cover the shape or appearance
of the hardware), and Android has designed around the rubberbanding
effect, so Android would not offend those claims of Apple's
patents. However, there is no doubt that Android smartphones
and tablets all use pinch-and-zoom. The options are for Android
(read: Google) to take a license from Apple, or design around with
some alternate gesture. Invalidating the '915 patent would be
another logical avenue. However, if that tactic had a good chance
of success, Samsung would have succeeded by now.
The jury form was so complex (have a look for yourself: Jury Form, courtesy of Groklaw) that
observers were surprised at how quickly the jury returned a
verdict. The jury's findings and instructions will very likely
be the subject of the appeal process.
For a patent-by-patent, device-by-device breakdown of the
verdict in this case, see this excellent review (courtesy of
The Federal Court dismissed a motion by Apotex seeking particulars from Allergan's pleading relating to the prior art, inventive concept, promised utility and sound prediction of utility of the patents at issue.
Last year we saw the Canadian Courts release trademark decisions that granted a rare interlocutory injunction, issued jailed sentences for failure to comply with injunctive relief, grappled with trademark and internet issues...
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