February 1, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – A U.S. District Judge denied Apple’s bid to increase the $1.05 billion in damages the company was awarded against Samsung by a San Francisco jury in the companies’ ongoing patent war.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Francisco said that Apple had not provided sufficient evidence to prove Samsung’s infringement was willful and therefore denied Apple’s bid for treble damages.

The decision was one of many post-trial rulings Judge Koh issued Tuesday.  She also denied both companies’ requests for a new trial, which were based on parts of the verdict that were adverse to each company’s interests.  Judge Koh said that after reviewing the trial, she did not find error in the decision and upheld the jury’s verdict.

Judge Koh also denied Samsung’s request that the damages be reduced.  The San Fransico jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion to compensate Apple for losses caused from Samsung’s patent infringement.  The jury awarded the damages after determining that Samsung infringed six of Apple’s patents by using the protected technology in 26 models of smartphones and tablets without license from Apple.

Samsung claimed that the jury was not provided with a verdict form that was particular enough to allow it to properly calculate damages on a product-by-product basis.  The company claimed that if the damages were properly calculated, the verdict would be reduced by more than $600 million.

Another argument Samsung offered for reducing the damages was its claim that Apple’s patents should never have been granted because the language was too vague and did not accurately describe the technology covered by the patents.

Judge Koh rejected both arguments and did not provide much detail on why she was upholding the amount of the verdict, particularly when she had said in a hearing on December 6th that the original award was not “authorized by the law” and that the jury’s approach to calculating the damages was likely faulty.

In Tuesday’s decision, Judge Koh said that the court would not speculate on how the jury determined the damages awarded, but claimed that it was reasonable to assume the jury calculated the damages in order to compensate Apple for any losses it suffered due to Samsung’s infringement of Apple’s patents.

Despite Judge Koh’s ruling, it is likely the case is far from over, as at least one of the companies will likely appeal the decision.

January 12, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – For the 20th year in a row, International Business Machines Corp has been named the number one assignee of patents in the United States, according to IFI CLAIMS Patent Services’ list of the 2012 Top 50 US Patent assignees.

IBM leads the chart with 6,478 patents granted in 2012, which is more than 20% more than its next closest competitor.  IBM brings in an estimated $1 billion a year from licensing its patent portfolio.  In addition to the income, IBM uses its portfolio of patents to protect itself from litigation brought on by competitors and patent-holding firms.

Not surprisingly, Samsung Electronics Co made the number two spot with 5,081 patents granted last year.  The top ten is rounded out with other technology giants, such as Sony, Panasonic, Microsoft, Toshiba and other popular electronics brands.

However, there are a few names that surprisingly did not come close to the top ten.  Apple Inc came in at number 22, with only 1136 patents granted in 2012.  Google, Apple’s patent war rival, came in just ahead in the number 21 spot with 1151 patents granted.   Though the technology giants are lower on the list, the two companies made the biggest climb from their rankings last year.  Apple jumped from the 39th to 22nd spot and Google made an astounding jump from the 65th to 21st spot.

Google’s numbers were likely boosted by its purchase of Motorola Mobility in May of last year.  However, it is clear that Google and Apple both see their patent portfolios as a major business tool, as seen by their jump in the rankings and their ongoing patent wars around the globe.

However seriously these companies may take their patent portfolios, they could still learn a thing or two from IBM.  Dr. Michael Karasick, a vice president and computer scientist at IBM, says he credits the company’s impressive portfolio to its diverse range departments, each of which is filled with employees with varying skill sets.

Dr. Karasick also credited IBM’s success to its ability to invent and patent technology that can be used in different disciplines.  One example is the patent it was granted last year which covered the technology used in the IBM Watson computer, which beat the human “Jeopardy!” champions in 2011.  The same technology is currently being tested as an automated assistant for physicians to aid in diagnosing diseases.

With strategies like that, it is no wonder IBM has been able to hold the number one spot for the 20th year in a row.

January 3, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – The United States Patent and Trademark Office said in a preliminary ruling that one of Apple Inc.’s touch-related patents, a patent that played a large role in securing Apple over $1 billion in damages from Samsung Electronics,  should never have been granted.

After reexamination of the patent application by the USPTO, the agency rejected all of Apple’s 26 claims in its pinch-to-zoom patent on Wednesday.  The patent in question, patent No. 7,844,915, covers software that differentiates between single-touch and multitouch motions.  The software allows the smartphone to differentiate between scrolling and gesturing commands.

According to a document issued by the USPTO, which Samsung filed with the federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, several portions of the patent were discarded based on findings that prior patents owned by Apple protect the same technology.  Patents are only valid if the invention is novel considering all prior art.  According to the USPTO’s report, Apple’s pinch-to-zoom patent does not live up to this standard.

Apple is expected to appeal this preliminary ruling.  The USPTO often rejects patents, only to reinstate them later, so the patent may still be held valid.  However, if the decision does hold, the rejection of the patent will have lasting consequences for Apple.  Since Apple claimed that its pinch-to-zoom patent was one of its most commercially valuable patents, demanding a $3.10 per unit royalty from Samsung for any future use of the patented technology, it could have a large impact on the verdict Apple received in August.

Samsung is already claiming that this new action from the USPTO supports its bid for a new trial, which Samsung is requesting as an attempt to reduce the $1.05 billion in damages that a San Francisco jury awarded Apple.

The pinch-to-zoom patent is only one of six of Apple’s patents that Samsung was found to be infringing during the companies’ patent trial.  However, due to Apple’s claims of the commercial importance of the patent, it could prove grounds for retrial, though it is more likely that the verdict will just be reduced.

This is the second patent related to the Samsung case that has been struck down by the USPTO since the August decision.  In October, the USPTO rejected Apple’s patent for the feature that makes pages bounce when a user swipes a finger from the top to the bottom of the touch screen.

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