Patent Litigation

Patent Litigation is the process of enforcing your rights as a patent owner in the court system.

Patent Litigation is the process of enforcing your rights as a patent owner in the court system against a competitor or other person that may be infringing your patent rights by, for example, selling or using your patented invention and is commonly known as suing another party for patent infringement.  In many countries the use must be commercial or have a commercial purpose to constitute patent infringement. Patent litigation is often an expensive procedure requiring the services of a patent attorney and a solicitor, and most often also a barrister for each party to the litigation action including the patent owner and the respondent (the potential infringer).

A particularly notable example of recent patent litigation include the much-publicised litigation between US company Apple Inc. and South Korea-based Samsung Electronics Co. Limited regarding potential copying of Apple iPhones and tablet devices by Samsung.  Apple commenced litigation against Samsung in early 2011, despite already being engaged in existing litigation with Motorola Mobility.  By August 2011 Apple and Samsung were involved in 19 ongoing cases in nine countries, expanding to 10 countries in October that year.  Apple’s aggressive strategy of multinational litigation of technology patents became known as the “smartphone patent wars” which, at its height involved smartphone manufacturers including Sony, Google, Apple Inc., Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, Xiaomi, and HTC, among others.  By July 2012, the litigation actions between Apple and Samsung had increased to more the 50 separate actions worldwide.  The patents asserted by Apple largely related to a series of patents filed in 2007 around the release of the first Apple iPhone.  In response Samsung counter-sued accusing Apple of infringing a number of Samsung-held patents relating to mobile-telecommunications technologies. Despite small wins by parties in various litigation actions, no clear winner emerged and Apple and Samsung finally agreed to settle out of court on undisclosed terms in July/August 2014 simultaneously abandoning patent litigation actions against each other in 9 countries outside of the United States including South Korea, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the U.K.  Patent litigation continued in the United States and in 2015 Apple prevailed at the US district court on trade dress, design patent and utility patent claims, with a total award of almost a billion dollars.  On appeal, the US Federal Circuit court reversed the earlier judgement regarding trade dress but affirmed on the design and utility patents.  Samsung is still fighting in the US to have these decisions overturned, with Samsung achieving success in May 2015 in having a damages award of $380 million dollars against them overturned and the issues in that judgement to be re-tried (for a third time) and also in August 2015 in possibly having a key Apple Design Patent invalidated through a re-examination procedure with the US Patent Office.  At present (August 2015), further appeals by Samsung against adverse judgements against them are still ongoing…