Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Limited c.s., District Court The Hague, The Netherlands, 28 November 2012, Case/Docket No. 413294 / HA ZA 12-220
Proceedings on the merits with respect to Apple’s photo gallery “bounce-back” patent, EP 2 059 868. On 24 August 2011, the PI judge had provisionally held that Samsung’s Android 2.2.1 Galaxy products infringed upon that patent, but that this was not the case for the Galaxy products running Android 3.0 and higher. This in confirmed in the proceedings on the merits.
According to the Court, in the Android 3.0 products there is no “second movement” needed for skipping to the next photograph, but rather a movement which is longer than a certain threshold value. As a skilled man would interpret the features “first-” and “second” movement as alternating movements which thus follow one another in time, the Court held that the Galaxy 3.0 products did not meet this feature. This was held to be different for the Android 2.2.1 products, in which the skipping to a next photograph according to the Court would be co-dependent on the detection of a “second movement”, which, as allegedly confirmed by the description, would be covered by the claims. Not in dispute was that products that used the “blue flash” update which Samsung had introduced after the PI decision had been rendered, did not infringe.
The Patent was moreover held to be valid.
Samsung’s novelty and inventive step objections were denied as it would not have stated that the prior art disclosed a second movement for skipping to the next photo. Its insufficiency objection was not followed as Samsung would have relied on an embodiment in which the skipping to a next photo was solely dependent on the length of the movement – an embodiment which according to the Court was not covered by the claims. The Court thus denied the nullification of the patent which was requested in the counterclaim, and rendered an injunction against all Android 2.2.1 products without the blue flash functionality. Samsung’s allegation that it no longer offered these products did not bring the Court to decide otherwise, as Samsung had not signed an undertaking to this extent on pain of a penalty.
Finally, Apple sought reimbursement of its full costs – also in the counterclaim proceedings. In light of the Bericap/Plastinnova decision of the European Court of Justice (C-180/11) which was rendered after the oral hearing had taken place, the Court requested the parties to file a further motion to comment on the question whether there is room for reimbursement of full costs in the counterclaim proceedings, which only concerned the validity of the patent. Consequently, the decision on the costs in the counterclaim proceedings has been postponed.
Read the entire judgment (in Dutch) here.
Head note: Geert Theuws