Apple's very busy day in court

There are two new, strong doses of Apple vs. Samsung, and an argument over the fallout of the Justice Department's e-books case against Apple -- all in a single Friday.

CNET

To say Apple's got a lot going on this Friday is, perhaps, putting it lightly.

The tech company is duking it out against Samsung in two separate legal arenas, both over possible sales bans on phones in the U.S. and potentially the future of patent law. Apple's also going up against the Department of Justice to argue over what happens to its e-books business since losing that case last month.

Here's a quick primer about what's going on with each of those on Friday, and why they're important.

Apple vs. Samsung / Samsung vs. Apple
The two companies will face a panel of judges at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to argue over permanent injunctions that could keep 26 of Samsung's smartphones from being sold in the U.S.

The jury in that case (which went to trial a year ago this month) found Samsung guilty of infringing on several Apple patents, and on the hook for more than $1 billion in damages . Since then, District Judge Lucy Koh has ordered up a new trial for some of the devices, splitting off nearly half of that total, which could go up or down depending on how that next trial plays out.

Legal onlookers are watching the outcome of this particular case closely, since the ruling could change the legal test courts use to evaluate patent infringement. Specifically, that's whether just a few patents can affect the sales of devices that combine so many features and technologies.

"This isn't just for Apple and Samsung," said Chris Carani, a partner at McAndrews, Held & Malloy. "Most products are multifaceted now. It's rare you have a patent that's directed at every part of a product. It's usually just a particular aspect."

Depending on the decision, the case could be passed back down to Judge Koh for more evaluation.

ITC final judgment in Apple vs. Samsung
But wait -- there's more! The very same day, the U.S. International Trade Commission is set to deliver its final ruling on Apple's complaint against Samsung, a smaller part of the battle between the two tech giants.

Apple filed its complaint all the way back in July 2011, accusing Samsung of infringing on five utility patents and two design patents on six smartphones and two variants of the Galaxy Tab. Apple later shaved a patent off, as well as particular claims from two others. In an initial ruling last October, the ITC found Samsung to be guilty of violating one of Apple's iPhone design patents, along with three software feature patents.

The final ruling was originally set to be delivered last week, but was delayed and could be set back yet again . The trade group's most recent ruling was vetoed by the Obama administration , putting extra scrutiny on its next decision.

But a veto on any sales ban is far less likely in this case, experts say. Unlike the other complaint, which also involved Apple and Samsung, and threatened to bar some older iPhones and iPads from sale in the U.S., these patents have to do with the design and software features. That's instead of a wireless technology patent that was deemed essential to international standards.

Among the list of affected devices would be Samsung's Galaxy S2 smartphone, as well as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.

Apple and the DOJ talk e-books fallout
Last month Apple lost the case brought on by the Justice Department over alleged e-book price-fixing. What that actually means for the company is still being sorted out.

On Friday, both sides will get a hearing to talk remedies, or -- more simply -- some of the changes Apple might have to make as a result of the judge's decision. That's likely to be a lively debate given volleys sent by both sides.

At the end of last week, the Justice Department proposed its own set of changes for Apple . The three big pieces of that proposal were that Apple would end its existing agreements with the five major publishers, let other e-book publishers link to their own bookstores in iOS apps, and staff an antitrust monitor to evaluate its business for five years. Apple fired back last week , calling the government's proposals vague, overreaching, unwarranted, and even "draconian."

In a filing on Wednesday, the five major book publishers weighed in, arguing that one of those stipulations -- ending the existing agreements -- would completely eliminate a pricing model that's become the industry standard. The publishers also said it would break agreements the Justice Department made with each of them when they settled.

Apple has already said it plans to appeal the original decision.

CNET will have updates on all three of these as they come. Stay tuned.

 

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