Apple just hit a stumbling block in its second U.S. patent infringement case against Samsung thanks to a Patent and Trademark Office ruling that rejects some of the iPhone and iPad maker's claims. The ruling targeted the summary judgement Federal Judge Lucy Koh issued ahead of Apple and Samsung's trial this spring, and relates to infringement claims for Apple's autocomplete patent.
USPTO rejects some of Apple's autocomplete patent infringement claims
Apple won US$120 million in its second patent infringement trial with Samsung, but was also found to infringe on one of Samsung's patents. Samsung made sure Judge Koh was aware of the USPTO's new ruling because it could have a material impact on the case.
The USPTO finding could push Judge Koh to decide that Apple's claim against Samsung relating to the '172 autocomplete patent isn't valid, which in turn would mean Apple loses out on part of its win in the second infringement trial.
Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents said,
The legal standard is stricter in the infringement case than in reexamination, where clear and convincing evidence is sufficient to reject a patent claim, but it looks awkward that Judge Koh held Samsung to infringe a patent claim that the USPTO probably wouldn't have granted if it had been aware of all of the relevant prior art. In a new filing, Samsung just drew Judge Koh's attention to this decision and stressed the fact that 'the USPTO concluded that the prior art identified in the Office Action is the same or in the same family as the prior art asserted by Samsung in this case.'
That ruling is bad news for Apple, but it doesn't mean the company is out of options. The USPTO ruling is preliminary and subject to more reviews, and could change at any time. Apple can also appeal the Office's ruling, which could drag on for years.
Apple and Samsung have been scaling back their ongoing patent infringement fight. The two companies had been duking it out in courts around the world over claims they're infringing on each other's mobile device patents. The two recently, however, agreed to drop all of their infringement cases against each other outside of the U.S., and they also agreed to drop their International Trade Commission-related appeals.
While Apple has been winning more often than not in its ongoing fight with Samsung, it hasn't been able to score any victories that have had a significant impact. Samsung continues to make Android-based smartphones and tablets that Apple sees as infringing devices, and it doesn't look like that'll change any time soon.