Judge denies Samsung motion to stay Apple patent damages trial

Korean electronics giant sought halt to proceedings so that the Patent Office could examine a key patent's validity.

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A federal judge has denied Samsung's emergency motion to stay a patent infringement damages trial while the validity of a key patent is re-examined.

After a jury found last year that Samsung had infringed on five Apple patents related to the iPhone's design and functionality, a judge vacated about $450 million of the original award and ordered a new trial to recalculate damages. Samsung filed its motion on Wednesday while the jury was deliberating on how much the South Korean electronics giant should pay Apple in addition to the $600 million it already owes from the first trial.

Samsung argued that the trial should be put on hold because the US Patent Office was questioning the validity of Apple patent No. 7,844,915, also known as "pinch to zoom." That particular patent, which covers a method by which users can bring their fingers together and separate them to create a zoom-in or zoom-out effect, is considered key because it's the only one for which Apple can collect money for lost revenue.

Samsung argued that "this decision by the [patent office] jeopardizes the jury's findings in the damages trial and may render all of the post-trial proceedings a waste of time and resources." Samsung's motion, which was filed a day before the jury determined that Samsung must pay Apple $290 million in additional damages for patent infringement, "crossed the bounds of reason," Apple countered.

Late Monday, US District Court Judge Lucy Koh rejected Samsung's argument, finding that it would be more efficient for a final judgment to be rendered in the case so that the Federal Circuit, which has jurisdiction over District Court rulings in patent infringement cases, could review the entire case and the validity of the patents involved as soon as possible.

"If Samsung is truly concerned about efficiency, the court encourages Samsung to discuss with Apple an agreement to forgo post-trial motions so that the parties can expeditiously appeal this entire case to the Federal Circuit," Koh wrote in her decision (see below).

CNET has contacted Apple and Samsung for comment on the ruling and will update this report when we learn more.

Apple originally filed suit against Samsung in April 2011, accusing the Korean company of copying the look and feel of its products. Samsung countersued two months later over patent infringement and said it was at work on touch-screen phones with giant rectangular screens and rounded corners well before Apple showed up.

The initial trial, which stretched more than three weeks in August 2012, wrapped both of those cases in one, somehow squeezing together the patent infringement issues, alongside antitrust claims, and even trade dress issues. A jury ultimately sided with Apple, declaring that Samsung had infringed Apple's patents.

Samsung motion to stay trial denied