Samsung patent damages award slashed (perhaps)
Samsung might not have to reach quite so deep into its pockets after Judge Lucy Koh struck out almost half of the amount a California jury awarded to Apple last year in a patent dispute between the two smartphone rivals. On Friday Judge Lucy Koh vacated more than $450 million of the $1.05 billion damages award. But it’s far from being the end of the litigation story for the Korean company. Florian Mueller of Foss Patents reports that the $450 million relates to 14 Samsung products, which Koh says must now be the subject of a new damages trial because the jury did not provide enough detail about how it calculated the amount that it believed Apple deserved. But that trial is still some way off: Koh recommends that the second damages trial be held only after appellate proceedings have concluded.
Trolls and software patents
The dust may be (slowly) settling as practitioners familiarise themselves with the America Invents Act, but the debate in the US about patents and patenting is far from over. The introduction last week by two US Congressmen of the SHIELD Act 2013 – an acronym for "Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes" has refocused attention on NPEs. Managing IP has a guide to the bill entitled The SHIELD Act: Troll killer or innovation chiller? (subscription or free trial required). You can also read about the latest efforts to improve the quality of software patents – and the views of patent owners and users – with a report on a USPTO event in New York last week. (These subjects, and may more, will be on the agenda at Managing IP's US Patent Forum on March 19, which is free to in-house counsel).
Dumb IP rights avoided in 3D printing technique
Cory Doctorow – the Canadian writer who we listed as one of the 50 most influential people in IP in 2011 – reports on a method for smoothing out the results of 3D printing. Apparently evaporated nail-polish remover in a jar can be used to remove the ridged surface that results from printing hundreds of layers of plastic. Doctorow says the process “sidesteps a bunch of dumb patents”. It’s interesting to see the attitude of users to intellectual property, following recent stories on the Managing IP blog, though there is little acknowledgement those “dumb patents” could reward the inventors of this process and help them develop more.
Patent box reforms lead to applications rising … by 20%?
The UK’s Independent newspaper carries a story entitled “Patents: UK inventors can now box clever” and subtitled “Promise of a new tax break sees a 20 per cent rise in patented products” about the UK’s new low-tax patent box reform. The reform, which comes into effect in April, will apply a special 10% corporate tax rate on income derived from patents and is designed to attract R&D activity to the UK. But are applications already rising by 20%? This seems on the high side of optimistic. If any UK patent attorney or IP owner wants to let us know their experiences so far with the patent box do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chinese IP exasperation
The head of China’s IP office has entered the simmering row between US politicians and Chinese telecoms companies, telling Xinhua, the country’s state-owned news agency, that China opposes the politicisation of IP rights. Tian Lipu said: “It is a little ridiculous for the United States to penalize Chinese companies with intellectual properties. It reflects the anxiety and irrationality of some people. I hope they can change such practices.” His comments follow a decision at the end of January by the US International Trade Commission to investigate wireless devices made by four foreign companies, including Huawei and ZTE, on the grounds of patent infringement. It also comes less than six months after the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee issued a damning report into the security threats posed by Huawei and ZTE. (Although the section on Huawei’s alleged IP offences includes an observation that the Chinese company used information from a consulting firm within its own slide presentation: an observation that, business etiquette aside, hardly seems conclusive proof of IP malevolence.)