courtroom gavel

Apple and Samsung may have called a truce in patent litigation overseas, but here in the United States, they’re still locked in a heated battle. The two firms are wrapping up post-trial hearings from their 2012 meeting, and they’ve just begun post-trial activities for this year’s lawsuit.

This week a significant development has occurred, which could have a major impact in the ongoing fight. The US Patent Office has rejected several claims of one of the patents Apple asserted against Samsung in their most recent infringement trial, saying certain parts aren’t valid…

Here’s more from FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has very recently rejected multiple claims of Apple’s ‘172 autocomplete patent, including claim 18, the one asserted against Samsung in the second California litigation. […]

The legal standard is stricter in the infringement case (especially now at the JMOL stage) 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 recent filing, Samsung drew Judge Koh’s attention to this ruling, essentially saying that the USPTO agreed that there is enough prior art to invalidate Apple’s autocomplete patent, and her ruling should be reexamined. Expect things to get very interesting in post-trial proceedings.

It’s worth noting that the decision by the United States Patent and Trademark Office is a preliminary one, and could take several months or even years to conclude. Still, it could hold weight with Judge Koh, who has the power to cut the $120 million Samsung has to pay Apple in damages.