Samsung’s Apple Infringement Wasn’t Willful

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – Samsung did not willfully infringe Apple’s “slide-to-lock” iPhone patent, a federal judge held late Tuesday, reversing a jury’s finding.
     This past May, an eight-person jury found that all Samsung’s latest gadgets infringed Apple’s “quick links” patent, and some copied the “slide-to-lock” feature. None of the South Korean company’s products were found to infringe the universal-search or background-sync patents.
     The jury also deemed Samsung’s infringement of the locking feature willful, which would have allowed Apple to ask for treble damages.
     U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh agreed Tuesday that Samsung had infringed the patent but said Apple missed the higher bar of showing the copying was done willfully.
     “To establish objective willfulness, Apple must prove by clear and convincing evidence that there was an ‘objectively high likelihood that [Samsung’s] actions constituted infringement of a valid patent,'” Koh wrote, citing case-law. “If Samsung had an objectively reasonable defense to infringement, its infringement cannot be said to be objectively willful, and objective willfulness fails as a matter of law. Samsung’s defense is not reasonable if it is ‘objectively baseless.'”
     While Koh had believed prior to trial that the patent would withstand Samsung’s obviousness defense – and ruled accordingly at the preliminary injunction stage – that did not render the defense baseless, her new order states.
     “In sum, Samsung’s infringement of the ‘721 patent was not objectively willful because Samsung’s invalidity defense was not objectively baseless,” Koh wrote. “Accordingly, Apple has not met its burden to show clear and convincing evidence that Samsung acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions would infringe a valid patent. Samsung’s motion for judgment as a matter of law that its infringement of the ‘721 patent was not willful is granted.”
     A day earlier, Koh awarded Apple supplemental damages and prejudgment interest. She declined to order a new trial, however, because Samsung may have prejudiced the jury by frequently mentioning that Apple had never used some of the patents for which it was suing.
     Both companies have appeals pending before the Federal Circuit.

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