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Apple-Samsung case far from over, but won't delay next iPhone, analysts say

Stephen Lawson | Aug. 30, 2012
The legal battle between Apple and Samsung Electronics may continue for another year or more despite a jury verdict on Friday that appeared to hand the iPhone maker a solid win. But the wrangling isn't likely to delay Apple's next big product.

There are several other issues left for District Court Judge Lucy Koh to decide, including motions by Apple to block the sale of eight Samsung smartphones, and when those are resolved the South Korean vendor is expected to appeal the whole verdict at a higher court. All this might take until next December, though it's impossible to know until the courts decide, observers say.

At the district court, Koh will probably face several post-trial motions that argue the jury made mistakes that need to be corrected, observers said. They are likely to include one by Apple that would ask her to essentially overrule the jury's verdict on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, said Christopher Carani, a design patent attorney at McAndrews, Held & Malloy in Chicago. Such so-called "directed verdicts" are rarely granted and in this case would require a finding that there is no other reasonable conclusion, but it could happen, Carani said.

Koh will also need to rule on Apple's request on Monday for preliminary and permanent injunctions against eight Samsung smartphones. Samsung has already vowed to fight those injunctions, which would block the sale of the products in the U.S. And she will need to decide whether the damages that the jury called for should be doubled or tripled as an extra penalty for willful infringement. The jury found that Samsung deliberately violated Apple's patents.

The judge has scheduled a hearing on Sept. 20, where the two sides will argue over removing the current injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1. But Apple's request for the eight new injunctions isn't due to be heard until Dec. 6.

Once she has heard arguments on the remaining issues, Koh will probably try to rule promptly, Carani said. As the case has progressed, Koh has been dealing with motions more quickly, he said.

But it's almost certain that Samsung will appeal Friday's verdict in the next higher court, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Carani and others said. It can't do so until the case is resolved in the district court, and then will have 60 days to do so. The appeal could take nine to 12 months or longer, Carani said.

The lengthy litigation is nothing out of the ordinary, said Roy Futterman, a jury consultant at Doar Litigation Consulting. Despite the attention being paid to errors by the jury, of which some were resolved on Friday and others are claimed by the two companies, the Apple-Samsung case is typical, Futterman said. "This is really standard stuff, so far," he said.

It's hard to predict how long a given case will go on, because so much is up to the judges, Futterman said. Apple's motions for injunctions alone could involve a lengthy process, he said.

"That can really go on for quite some time. There's really no good answer," Futterman said.


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