Apple Samsung jury speed doubts raised after "punishment" ruling

The validity of the jury decision in the Apple vs. Samsung patent trial has come under renewed scrutiny, with concerns that the speedy ruling could mean fundamental aspects of the process have been overlooked. Many were surprised that the jury in the San Jose case reached its $1bn decision against Samsung in just three days, despite the complexity of the suit; Groklaw has been gathering up some of the skepticism, pointing to obvious discrepancies in calculating damages – where Samsung had been charged for infringing with devices the jury had already deemed did not, in fact, infringe – as well as post-trial comments by jury members which suggested moral punishment not rightful compensation was the goal.

The first points of concern were identified shortly after the initial decision was revealed, with Samsung spotting – among other things – that the Intercept smartphone and Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE tablet had seen damages awarded despite not actually infringing. That forced a recalculation, dropping more than $2.2m from the overall damages.

Potentially more concerning – or good news for Samsung's appeal, depending on how you look at it – is the jury's apparent lack of interest in the instructions, which contained 700 questions to be considered. The complexity and number of those questions – spread over a 109 page document [pdf link] – stand in contrast to statements by other legal experts that suggested a "consistent" judgement among jurors and "thoughtful" answers were sufficient to indicate a solid verdict.

"If the jury rushed so much it assigned $2 million dollars to Apple, and then had to subtract it because there was no infringement, it raises a valid question: what was the basis for any of the damages figures the jury came up with? If they had any actual basis, how could they goof like this? Was there a factual basis for any of the damages figures?" Groklaw

Meanwhile, juror Manuel Ilagan suggested to CNET that the process had been made "faster" based on initial assumptions of prior-art and that the group later realized that each had decided Samsung had infringed "on the first day." Ilagan mentioned that "the e-mails that went back and forth from Samsung execs about the Apple features that they should incorporate into their devices was pretty damning to me." Foreman Velvin Hogan also revealed that the jury's motivation was a message "sufficiently high to be painful [to Samsung], but not unreasonable" rather than "just a slap on the wrist"; that's despite an note in the instructions making clear that any penalties should be compensation not punishment:

"The amount of those damages must be adequate to compensate the patent holder for the infringement. A damages award should put the patent holder in approximately the financial position it would have been in had the infringement not occurred, but in no event may the damages award be less than a reasonable royalty. You should keep in mind that the damages you award are meant to compensate the patent holder and not to punish an infringer"

There has been no shortage of opinion and speculation shared about the Apple vs. Samsung outcome, by a wide range of experts. It's worth noting that Groklaw approaches law with "open-source principles" in keeping with its community support of Linux and the open-source movement; that's not to say it cannot put together a measured view of Apple's legal case, of course.

Samsung has already confirmed that it intends to first challenge this ruling and, should that process fail, present its case to the Appeals Court. Apple, in the meantime, is aiming for an injunction against multiple Samsung products, with the date for that injunction hearing tentatively set for September 20. Justice Lucy Koh could also opt to as much as triple the jury's damages decision, to more than $3bn.

Still, Samsung isn't happy even with what legal avenues are open to it. "It's absolutely the worse scenario for us" an unnamed senior Samsung executive told The Korea Times, with an emergency meeting called between the chiefs of the corporate strategy, mobile device, and marketing divisions. Some patent experts predict Apple will now be less stubborn in its patent cross-licensing negotiations, having left Samsung weakened in the courts, with particular interest in the Korean firm's 4G LTE technology. LTE is expected to feature in the new iPhone, with Apple having opted to leave it out of models to-date over concerns about 4G battery life.