Apple Looks to Ruin Google’s Jelly Bean Party With More Lawsuits

Apple, Inc.’s (AAPL) legal efforts against Android haven’t stopped its sales momentum.  Google Inc.’s (GOOG) operating system today is out-selling Apple 5-to-1 in unit sales [source].  

Meanwhile, Apple’s efforts to ban Android devices has run into a few roadblocks; for example Apple’s litigation against Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility has been dismissed with prejudice not once, not twice, but three times from different federal courts.

I. Apple Wants to Greatly Expand its Bans

But as they say, you only need to be in the right place at the right time, and that’s precisely what happened when Apple sued Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  Initially, Judge Lucy Koh moved to dismiss the case, but in a somewhat unusual outcome a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ordered [PDF] Judge Koh to reconsider tossing the case.  Judge Koh subsequently allowed Apple to take Samsung to trial, and in a stunning outcome the jury — some of whose family members were Apple shareholders — found Samsung guilty of $1.05B USD in damages.

In the wake of that lone victory, Apple is looking to triple the damages to $3B USD and to ban more Google products.  Hoping that lightning will strike twice, Apple filed in court this week request Judge Koh to tack on Google’s latest Jelly Bean operating system, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1.

While Apple’s products don’t have a stylus, the company still claims that the Samsung stylus-endowed designs infringe on its patents.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 is a particularly thorny pain in Apple’s side.  It features a friendly pen-input technology that Apple’s iPad lacks.  Samsung has gained quite a bit of ground on Apple in the tablet industry; Apple is eager to stomp out that potential rival before things get to far.

And by asking to ban Jelly Bean devices, Apple can hope to not only kill shipments of older Samsung smartphones to the U.S., but also to kill Samsung’s full lineup of phones.

II. Judge Koh Strikes Down One Key Ban

It’s unclear, though, whether Judge Koh will humor Apple.

Judge Koh, despite allowing the record jury verdict, recently struck down the ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (the precursor to the Note 10.1), as the jury found it did not infringe on U.S. Design Patent D504,889, a design patent which depicted a bulkier button-less early iteration of the iPad, nicknamed by some the “fat iPad”.

While Judge Koh did acknowledge that the Tab 10.1 was found to infringe on Apple user interface patents, she argued that was insufficient to ban the handsets.  

That’s bad news for Apple, as while the jury found Samsung’s product line to be almost entirely in infringement of Apple’s UI patents, they only found some handsets to be close enough to Apple’s smartphone patents to be ruled in infringement.  In other words if Judge Koh applies the same standard to smartphones, only a couple of older Samsung handsets, like the first-generation Galaxy S, might be banned.

Apple wants to add 17 more products to its lawsuit. [Image Source: Jason Mick/Global Tech News]
Apple is making its plea to expand the case before Judge Paul S. Grewal, who will decide whether to send the new products for consideration by Judge Koh and the jury.  Samsung is understandably upset about the additions, which it argues will add 17 stylus-based products to the existing case.  (While Apple’s products do not use a stylus, it argues its patents cover the absent feature as well.)

It argues it only wants to add a single product, albeit a big one — the iPhone 5.  Victoria Maroulis, an attorney for Samsung, writes in a counter-brief to Apple’s request, “By adding the stylus, Apple is going to enlarge the case significantly.”

III. Jury Foreman Had Undisclosed Legal Bone to Pick With Samsung, Samsung Files for Retrial

On an interesting note Judge Koh agreed to hear arguments from Samsung that look to toss the $1B USD jury verdict on grounds of juror misconduct.  The claims don’t deal with the share-holding family members; that interest was clearly disclosed and ruled okay by Judge Koh.  

However, one of the jurors did not reveal, when directly questioned if they had ever been involved with a lawsuit, an important case win which they were the defendant.  Specifically, the juror had been sued by a hard-drive manufacturer that now controls Samsung’s old hard drive business — Seagate.

The jury foreman in the record verdict against Samsung “accidentally” forgot to mention he had been sued in the 1990s by a Samsung subsidiary. [Image Source: Walt Disney]
Basically, the juror had signed a note promising to pay Seagate, but did not, leading to a breach of contract suit.  In other words, that juror, Velvin Hogan — who also happened to play the pivotal role of jury foreman — seemingly would have a huge bone to pick with Samsung.

In light of that undisclosed bias, Samsung’s attorney’s are pleading with Judge Koh to toss the verdict and grant a retrial with a new foreman who doesn’t conceal potential legal grudges against their firm.

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