Apple's slide-to-unlock patent not willfully infringed by Samsung, judge rules

Samsung had good reason to think the patent invalid, Judge Lucy Koh said

While Samsung Electronics infringed on Apple's slide-to-unlock patent, that infringement was not willful, a U.S. court has ruled.

Samsung had asked Judge Lucy Koh of the San Jose division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to rule that it did not wilfully infringe on the patent. It did so after a jury in May awarded Apple US$119.6 million in damages because Samsung infringed some of Apple's patents. Apple got much less than the $2 billion it had asked for though.

Among the infringed patents was the slide-to-unlock patent, which describes a way to unlock a touchscreen device by dragging an unlock image across a screen. The jury found that, as a subjective matter, Samsung willfully infringed this patent.

However, Koh found that Samsung had good reason to think the patent invalid. "Accordingly, Apple has not met its burden to show clear and convincing evidence that Samsung acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions would infringe a valid patent," she said in an order filed with the court on Tuesday.

All other motions filed by Samsung requesting to overrule the jury verdict and declare Apple's patents either not infringed or invalid were denied.

Koh's decision closely follows her Monday order denying Apple a retrial on damages for infringement of its patents.

In a separate order filed Tuesday, Koh ordered Apple and Samsung to respond to an Apple motion in which it demanded monetary damages for continuing infringement of three of its patents by Samsung that was

filed last week.

Apple filed that motion following the court's refusal to ban sales of infringing Samsung products. A decision that Apple said it would appeal.

This is the second Californian patent case in which Apple has scored a major victory against Samsung. In the last, it won final damages of about $930 million from Samsung, reduced from $1.05 billion in a retrial.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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