Apple Loses Appeal in Samsung Case: Two Patents Ruled Invalid, $120 Million Verdict Overturned

The long-running dispute between Apple and Samsung continues, with an appeals court today handing the Cupertino-based company a defeat by invalidating two Apple patents and ruling a third had not been infringed by Samsung (via Bloomberg). The ruling, which covers Apple patents related to slide-to-unlock, autocorrect, and interactive phone number features, also threw out the original $119.6 million in damages Apple had been awarded in the case.

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In addition, Apple's guilty verdict from nearly two years ago has been upheld: the company still has to pay $158,400 for violating Samsung's patent describing an "apparatus for recording and reproducing digital image and speech." Regarding the three operating system features Apple attempted to validate, the court ruled that Apple's claim for Samsung's patent infringement was "invalid."
In this case, Apple claimed that Samsung infringed patents for the slide-to-unlock feature, autocorrect and a way to detect phone numbers that can then be touched to make phone calls. The autocorrect patent is invalid and the detection patent wasn’t infringed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said in an opinion posted on its electronic docket. The court upheld the jury’s verdict that two other Apple patents, for universal search and background syncing, weren’t infringed.
In a separate court battle over patent infringements, last December Samsung decided to submit an appeal to the Supreme Court in one final effort to avoid paying $548 million to Apple. Just this month, Apple attempted to convince the Supreme Court to deny Samsung's appeal in the five-year-old case, claiming that the South Korean company was simply attempting to prolong the case even further following the announcement of the settlement.



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26 weeks ago

This is conclusive proof that there is no real justice. The message this sends to companies is, "Don't bother to enforce patents when your competitors copy your innovations; you'll be overruled in court."


On the contrary, same as when Apple wins by invalidating someone else's patent, or showing that they did not infringe, it's proof of justice in the end.

The message is, don't use weak patents to try to stifle competition, because those patents are likely to be found invalid upon appeal to more experienced courts.

More than a dozen judges around the world already invalidated the slide-to-unlock patent. The only judge who had not, was Judge Koh in California.

The hot links patent was likewise something that should never have been granted, since various applications had such a feature for years beforehand.
Rating: 20 Votes
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26 weeks ago


In addition, Apple's guilty verdict from nearly two years ago has been upheld:


Unlike criminal cases, civil cases such as this are not about guilt. They're about liability (finding "for" the plaintiff).

This decision wouldn't have had much impact on either company at this point anyway, but combine this with the recent FBI/DOJ attack on Apple and I'm very frustrated with the way the courts have treated Apple recently.


A warrant is a legal request.

If you had a child or little sister kidnapped, and the FBI had the kidnapper's phone with evidence that could save her, and the courts gave the FBI a warrant, then you'd rightfully be all for Apple doing their damnedest to unlock it right away.

Samsung does nothing but rob other companies of their engineering and get away with it....


Samsung had to do their own engineering to implement the features in these cases. No code copying involved. Ditto for Apple in the many patent cases where they're accused of infringement.

You are confused about what software patent infringement is almost always about. It's not about copying an idea, because those cannot be patented. It's about coming up with similar methods, which is common as dirt.

Will this ever end?


The recent Supreme Court decision limiting some types of software patents should help.
Rating: 15 Votes
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26 weeks ago

This is conclusive proof that there is no real justice. The message this sends to companies is, "Don't bother to enforce patents when your competitors copy your innovations; you'll be overruled in court."


Everyone loves the courts when they rule in Apple's favor but call them corrupt when they don't.
So which is it?

If your patents are ruled invalid in a court of law, there is nothing to enforce.

$158,400 is just a drop in the bucket for Apple.

But Apple will probably blow 20x that much to try and get it overturned.
Rating: 10 Votes
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26 weeks ago

Samsung does nothing but rob other companies of their engineering and get away with it....


Steve Jobs once said Apple is shameless with stealing great ideas.
Rating: 10 Votes
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26 weeks ago
Samsung does nothing but rob other companies of their engineering and get away with it....
Rating: 10 Votes
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26 weeks ago
This decision wouldn't have had much impact on either company at this point anyway, but combine this with the recent FBI/DOJ attack on Apple and I'm very frustrated with the way the courts have treated Apple recently.
Rating: 10 Votes
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26 weeks ago

~snip~

Thank you for this and your other posts. They always bring clarity and sanity to these threads.
Rating: 10 Votes
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26 weeks ago

I have not reviewed the specifics of these cases deeply enough to have a solid opinion on this finding but I've started to feel good any time a patent case is thrown out. Although I recognize the importance of patent law I feel that more often than not in recent past patent litigation has been overwhelming of the patent troll variety. I don't have a good solution (an army of highly trained patent clerks just isn't practical) so for the time being I'll lean towards cheering the invalidation of most patent claims.



I have to agree with you. The patent office validates far too many ideas, specifically in software patents, that seem to me obvious. I say this as a software industry insider. I don't blame Apple for trying to patent everything, as that's how corporate behemoths now have to play the game versus each other. But "obviousness' is supposed to be a barrier to patent certification, and too many patent examiners seem unable to distinguish the obvious from the innovative.
Rating: 8 Votes
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26 weeks ago

So it's basically saying that it's ok for Samsung to copy Apple, because that's what they did, it's what they usually do, I'm surprised they didn't copy The 3D Touch feature of the iPhone 6S.

Insightful :rolleyes:
Rating: 8 Votes
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26 weeks ago

Stealing an idea is different from cloning products.


You're right. Ideas cannot be patented.

The difference in these cases also go to how the software was used to make it more like hardware. The slide to unlock was virtual hardware with a physics component that made it real. If it can be copied to the advantage of the competitor, but is a distinguishing feature on the original, it should be protected.


The slide-to-unlock patent was not about what you think. Its base claim was for the method of unlocking by sliding a graphic image from one predetermined point to another. In other words, basically duplicating a regular sliding bolt lock.

The rest of the world had already ruled this was simply a software implementation of hardware. Not to mention being an obvious extension of the slide-to-unlock gesture already used by touch phones at least as far back as 2002.

Lots of companies had tried fingerprint scanners before Touch ID. Apple did not copy them, they worked on a better solution.


They bought a sensor supplier that everyone had been using together for over a decade, in order to get an exclusive on that supplier's innovation.

The same goes for Apple Pay.


They implemented the EMV token spec. Smart, but no invention there, except the idea of wanting to get paid each time the hardware they had sold its customers got used.

These technologies are years in development, how is it fair for someone to study your code for 6 months and duplicate your 3 to 6 years of work then compete against you with your own product.


Uh, no. Nobody had to study anyone else's code. Not even Apple has made such a claim.

Software patent infringement is rarely about actual copying of code. It's more about somebody independently coming up with an internal method which somebody else had managed to get a patent on.

Again, the same thing happens to Apple all the time. Just look at the patent lawsuits it has to constantly defend against. (You know, the ones that people often say are from trolls.)
Rating: 8 Votes
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