Owner of Patent for 3G Tech May Yet Pin Apple

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) - Apple must face claims that it swiped another company's patented 3G technology, a federal magistrate ruled.
     Golden Bridge Technology sued Apple and more than a dozen other tech companies in 2012 over patents designed to make the 3G environment faster and more efficient. Apple successfully lobbied for a finding of no willfulness in the infringement, and asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal to also find noninfringement on the basis of Golden Bridge's supposedly invalid patents.
     But Grewal said Wednesday that genuine questions of the validity of one of the patents - specifically, whether the patent is an upgrade of prior work - exist, making a summary judgment request inappropriate.
     While Golden Bridge admits that its patent for a multichannel-spread spectrum transmitter contains all the elements of an earlier invention, other parts of the newer patent make the two inventions distinct from each other. A jury should decide the truth of that assertion, Grewal said.
     Additionally, the question of whether the patented technology would be obvious to another inventor - which would invalidate the patent - is another issue that must be explored at trial, according to the 24-page ruling.
     "On this record, the court cannot yet say that it would have been obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art to use a processor to control the switches of the '558 patent," Grewal wrote. "To be sure, there is no genuine dispute that processors were well-known at the time of the '793 patent, and the Federal Circuit has affirmed that applying well-known electronics to prior art can be 'common place,' 'nothing new,' and 'familiar.' But this finding still requires evidence, and on summary judgment undisputed evidence, that there was both a reason to make the combination and that the combination, and not merely the component, was within the skill of the ordinary artisan."
     Grewal also refused to find Apple had not infringed at all since the products in question lack some elements of the patent, again pointing to differences of fact between the parties' experts.
     Meanwhile, unresolved questions on whether the patent should be considered a standard essential patent - and therefore licensed at fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory rates - stand in the way of ending the dispute before trial, Grewal concluded.