Yesterday afternoon U.S District Judge Lucy Koh rejected a request by Apple to ban the sale of three older Samsung devices that a San Jose Jury determined were infringing on technology patents that were central to Apple's iPhone. Back in August of this year, that jury ruled in favor of Apple and awarded the company a $1.05 billion judgment against Samsung, who it concluded had infringed several of Apple’s patents in creating 26 products – three of which are still being sold in the United States.
Judge Koh said that Samsung claims to have "worked around" those patent violations using different technology and that – even if Samsung's claim is found to be untrue – the punishment Apple was seeking is too broad for devices built with technology backed by hundreds of patents each.
"The phones at issue in this case contain a broad range of features, only a small fraction of which are covered by Apple’s patents," Koh wrote in her ruling. "Though Apple does have some interest in retaining certain features as exclusive to Apple, it does not follow that entire products must be forever banned from the market because they incorporate, among their myriad features, a few narrow protected functions."
The judge also said that consumers would be harmed if she ordered a ban.
"Though the phones do contain infringing features, they contain a far greater number of non-infringing features to which consumers would no longer have access if this Court were to issue an injunction," the judge wrote in her decision. "The public interest does not support removing phones from the market when the infringing components constitute such limited parts of complex, multi-featured products."
Judge Koh also rejected Samsung’s request for a new trial because of alleged juror misconduct. Samsung alleged that the jury foreman Velvin Hogan committed misconduct when he did not disclose that his former employer Seagate Technology filed a lawsuit against him in 1993. Samsung later acquired nearly 10 percent of Seagate. Samsung claimed that the jury foreman had a bias against the company because it owned a stake in Seagate. Judge Koh noted that Samsung had the ability and opportunity to investigate the matter during the trial and chose not to… until it lost.
"What changed between Samsung’s initial decision not to pursue questioning, or investigation of Mr. Hogan, and Samsung’s later decision to investigate was simple: the jury found against Samsung, and made a very large damages award," the judge ruled.
Judge Koh still has a number of issues to deal with related to this case including a request from Apple to increase the jury award and a request from Samsung to lower it – or start a new trial.