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Did the USPTO Just Kill the Apple v. Samsung Case?

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By William Peacock, Esq. on November 22, 2013 3:36 PM

This is never going to end, is it?

Earlier this week, we reported that the Federal Circuit was giving Apple a third chance to get an injunction blocking the sale of Samsung smartphones and tablets. After District Court Judge Lucy Koh ordered an initial injunction, the Federal Circuit reversed, ordering her to apply "causal nexus" analysis. She did, and denied the injunction, but now the Federal Circuit thinks she applied the "causal nexus" analysis too harshly, and has kicked the case back again.

Meanwhile, in Judge Koh's court, the jury is trying to decide damages. But the USPTO may have made the entire endeavor fruitless by invalidating Apple's "pinch to zoom" patent.

Invalidated Patent and the Damages Deliberations

According to Courthouse News Service, Samsung's attorneys filed an emergency motion seeking to halt the jury's damages deliberations, as the infringement verdict was based, in part on the "pinch to zoom" patent. The attorney's argument, in relevant part, stated:

"Samsung should not be compelled to face damages for a patent that the PTO has already found to be invalid. Accordingly, Samsung moves for an immediate stay of this action and requests that this matter be heard by the court immediately, before the jury completes its deliberations. This court has already recognized that a stay of proceedings is likely appropriate should the PTO finally determine that Apple's patents are invalid."

Apple's response: Samsung's request "has crossed the bounds of reason." They argued that terminating deliberations would require a full retrial, reports CNET.

Judge Koh apparently sided with Apple, as jurors continued deliberations until Thursday, when they ordered Samsung to pay $290 million, reports Reuters, for a total of $929.8 million awarded to date in the case. We'd expect to see the argument reappear on appeal, however.

Invalidated Patent and the Injunction

Seriously, we have no idea why the injunction battle is still raging. Pretty much all of the devices, especially the Galaxy Nexus smartphone, have aged off the market. An injunction would have little to no practical effect at this point.

Nonetheless, the Federal Circuit ordered the remand for further analysis of the "causal nexus." One wonders how the USPTO invalidating one of the three patents involved in that holding will affect the remaining proceedings.

We would've guessed that the matter would have been settled for a minor sum a while back, especially considering the unavailability of the products at issue. Maybe the fall of a patent claim will force the parties back to the table.

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