Judge Koh Punts on Apple FRAND Defense v. Samsung

Apple in CourtJudge Lucy Koh issued a ruling in the post-trial continuing battle between Apple and Samsung, telling both parties that she would not rule on Apple's FRAND defense motion against Samsung's standards-essential patents. The ruling will have little effect in the specific battle between the two companies, and it stemmed from the simple fact that the jury found no infringement by Apple.

According to FOSS Patents, Judge Koh cited the theory of prudential mootness, legalese for the issue being the next best thing to moot. Hooray for the legal system!

More specifically, because Apple wasn't found to infringe, any ruling the judge issued wouldn't affect the outcome of the case that's actually in front of her. Under those circumstances, she ruled that it wouldn't be worth the court's resources to rule on it, even though it is within her jurisdiction.

Apple wanted the ruling in the first place because it would have kept Samsung from being able to assert the SEPs in question in other cases. Not surprisingly, Samsung had urged the court not to rule on it, and that's ultimately what the judge did.

Florian Mueller noted her ruling indicated that in the end, both Apple and Samsung were on board with that decision.

An Apple filing included in the ruling said that, "the equitable defenses no longer present a live issue between the two parties in this case, and that the only effect of a ruling on Apple's claims would come through collateral estoppel in future cases. [...] While this Court does have subject matter jurisdiction to decide the equitable defenses, it would be within this Court's discretion to not decide these issues until they are before the Court as a live controversy."

That's a fancy way of saying, "Fair enough."

There's plenty more to come from this post-trial phase of the case, and this was merely the first of many rulings to come. The trial itself resulted in Apple being found innocent of infringement on Samsung's SEPs, while Samsung was found to be a willful copycat and ordered to pay US$1.05 billion.