"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Patent Wars at an End? Samsung Wins Final Federal Circuit Appeal Against Apple With Positive Ramifications for Android

LawPundit has posted for years about the obviousness of many of the patents erroneously granted by the USPTO to patent applicants, especially as regards patents involved in the infamous patent cases of the patent troll Apple, Inc. against Samsung. See Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. for a summary of the patent war cases between Apple and Samsung.

The virtually last remnants of that string of cases have now been decided by the Federal Circuit (download the .pdf of the court opinion here) and, once again, we are gratified to see that we have been substantiated in almost all points of our own analysis on these patent war cases -- as one patent after another has fallen into the judicially-determined realm of "obvious, invalid", including the absurdly granted now invalid "bounce-back" and "pinch" patents.

We have been right in our analysis on almost all counts, contrary to what was generally posted online initially by others -- with few exceptions -- i.e. by the mainstream news media and by mainstream academics and bloggers.

We are further gratified to see that Kathleen Sullivan, former Dean of Stanford Law School -- our Law School alma mater -- now a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, New York, NY, argued the most recent case winningly for the defendant-appellants Samsung.

The Wikipedia writes that Sullivan is the "first and only woman name partner at an Am Law 100 law firm" and cites to Kalia, Jaishree (July 22, 2014). Women in law: Quinn Emanuel’s name partner Kathleen Sullivan and London MP Sue Prevezer QC talk diversity, Legal Business, retrieved July 6, 2010.

Without disputing that Sullivan could be the first and only female "name" partner at an Am Law 100 law firm -- we really do not know, it all depends on your definition -- there are of course other women partners of rank at law firms, and we do want to mention Judith R. Thoyer here, who was at Paul, Weiss when we are an associate at the firm. Thoyer is now "Of Counsel" to Paul, Weiss after having headed the firm's big-time Mergers & Acquisitions Group (M&A). She is surely entitled to a pioneer status!

We must admit that we were somewhat surprised by the wholesale Federal Circuit ruling in favor of Samsung here, given past Federal Circuit patent-happy decision-making. Indeed, we have roundly criticized the Federal Circuit and its judges on many occasions in our postings for their failure to either properly understand or apply patent law -- witnessed by the many U.S. Supreme Court reversals of their decisions, so we hope that this eminently sensible decision is a landmark turning-point for the present Federal Circuit.

The final resolution of these many cases almost totally against Apple, Inc. also brings a sigh of relief to the rest of the high tech community, especially the makers of Android phones faced with the prospect of Apple, Inc. patent trolling about patents now deemed correctly to be obvious and invalid.

The case was argued before Chief Judge Prost, Circuit Judge Dyk and Circuit Judge Reyna, with Judge Dyk writing the opinion in the case. The court holding is a total washout for Apple, Inc., as well it should be, and as the court opinion writes:
"In conclusion, we reverse the district court’s judgment of infringement of the ’647 patent and the judgment of no invalidity with respect to obviousness of the ’721 patent and the ’172 patent.  Samsung was entitled to a judgment of non-infringement of the ’647 patent and a judgment of invalidity as to the ’721 and ’172 patents.  We affirm the judgment of non-infringement of Apple’s ’959 patent, Apple’s ’414 patent, and Samsung’s ’239 patent and affirm the judgment of infringement of Samsung’s ’449 patent.  In light of these holdings, we find that we need not address any of the other issues on appeal.
AFFIRMED-IN-PART, REVERSED-IN-PART
"
Apple, Inc. could try to appeal this holding to the U.S. Supreme Court, but, in our opinion, that would be a colossal waste of time for everyone, because it should have become clear to the entire legal community by now that the foregoing patent wars -- as the current purportedly "free speech" smartphone unlocking wars -- are part of the Apple firm's marketing strategy to sell their range of products -- made overseas --to the American public at vastly inflated prices and for commercial profit -- revenues largely not taxed in America but parked in offshore accounts, much to the detriment of the U.S. Treasury.

Judge Learned Hand once penciled to his colleague Judge Clark about the latter's failure to understand why Hand spent so much time in sifting precedents before over-ruling a case (I paraphrase), "it is essential for the law to do this, but you will never learn this from me, never from me!" (I saw that handwritten notice -- without my then copying the actual text -- in a marginal note by Hand to Clark in the papers of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals during the time that I was the student assistant to Professor Herbert Packer at Stanford and responsible for the task of sorting and indexing the papers.)

So it is with the patent system. There has for years been good reason for the juridical results we are finally seeing in the patent troll cases, but most of the rest of the legal community will never learn this from me, never from me!