Apple has asked a panel of judges involved in the ongoing appeals of the Apple-Samsung court battle to review two court decisions that allow Samsung to continue to sell products (like the Google Nexus phone) that have already been found to infringe on Apple designs and patents. The crux of Apple’s argument is that by allowing Samsung to continue selling the devices during the appeals process, the courts are allowing damage to continue unfettered—at a cost to the patent holder.
According to Apple’s lawyers in statements to the court, the status quo makes it “essentially impossible for a patentee to halt a direct competitor’s deliberate and successful copying of the patentee’s innovative designs and features.” But the questions are more complicated than just protection, because the courts have said that the infringing features must make a difference to consumer choice and the judge’s panel found in October that the features in the suit “will almost never drive consumer demand by themselves, at least not provably” because “consumers buy complex technological products for a whole host of reasons.”
Apple’s additional arguments are the injunctions also serve as a warning to Samsung (and others) that trying to “attract Apple’s customers through deliberate copying, with a damages award being merely a cost of doing business.” shouldn’t be tolerated.
It’s a complex set of arguments and these cases, I believe, could set legal precedents for years to come. I think lawyers on both sides as well as the judges in the case understand full-well that what they do now will affect so much later on.
Decisions whether to allow injunctions on sales during appeals or not, how sales bans work, and all the complicating factors about what parts of a device—and the operating system it uses—are patentable will certainly shape the future of technological innovation.
If the courts say that, fine this device infringed, but consumers don’t buy devices on that or a single feature, then piecemeal patent suits might not be worth pursuing.
Scales of Justice by mikecogh from Flickr.