Judge tosses two Samsung claims ahead of Apple patent trial

courtroom gavel

Apple and Samsung are gearing up for round 2 of their landmark US patent trial. The first round ended in Samsung paying nearly $1 billion in damages for infringing on some of Apple’s patents, and this new trial will look for similar infringement in newer devices.

The court proceedings don’t start for another two months, but Samsung has already suffered two big blows. This week, Judge Lucy Koh found the company’s multimedia synchronization patent to be invalid, and found it to infringe on an Apple autocorrect patent…

FOSS Patents reports:

“In a summary judgment order entered late on Tuesday (January 21, 2014), Judge Lucy Koh, the federal judge presiding over two Apple v. Samsung patent cases in the Northern District of California, found Samsung’s Android-based devices to infringe an Apple patent on word recommendations (autocomplete) and declared a Samsung patent on multimedia synchronization invalid.”

The big deal here is Koh’s ruling on Samsung’s infringement. Essentially the judge thought the violation was so clear that there was no need for a jury to evaluate Samsung’s denial of infringement claim, meaning all Apple has to do is prove the patent valid and it gets paid.

This is also significant because, as FOSS Patents notes, the infringing ‘recommendations’ feature is a part of Google’s Android OS. So if Koh’s infringement ruling makes it through the trial, Apple could use the decision as fodder for future lawsuits against other devices.

“If Samsung infringes this autocomplete patent (which is what Judge Koh concluded), then other Android device makers also have a problem. Google, which may be (possibly in close cooperation with Samsung) involved with an anonymous reexamination request against the word recommendations patent, will clearly be unhappy about this finding by its own home court.”

As for the Samsung patent Koh tossed, it was U.S. Patent No. 7,577,757 on a “multimedia synchronization method and device.” Samsung acquired the patent in late 2011, shortly after its dispute with Apple started, and was using it to assert 3 claims. So this is also a huge blow.

FOSS Patents says that these two moves by Koh ‘significantly increase’ Apple’s chances of winning the upcoming trial, which is slated to begin on March 31. They should also help Tim Cook out in his court-ordered mediation session with Samsung’s Oh-Hyun Kwon next month.