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Apple Gets Partial Fed. Circ. Win In Sony-Nokia Patent Case

March 19th, 2015 Alexander No comments

The Federal Circuit recently cleared Apple Inc. of infringing three smartphone patents held by a company formed by Sony Corp. of America and Nokia Corp., but sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings on another patent.

In a complex, mixed ruling, the appeals court sided with Apple on some issues, while agreeing on other issues with plaintiff MobileMedia Ideas LLC, a patent licensing firm formed by Sony, Nokia and MPEG LA LLC.

MobileMedia accused Apple’s iPhone of infringing four patents related to camera phone and phone call technology. The Federal Circuit reversed both of the district court’s findings that Apple infringed and affirmed that the third patent was invalid. However, it agreed with MobileMedia that the district court’s noninfringement finding on the fourth patent was based on an incorrect claim construction and vacated that ruling.

The Federal Circuit said that the district court wrongly found infringement of two patents. The two patents are U.S. Patent Numbers 6,427,078, which covers a notebook computer that includes a camera unit, and 6,070,068, which covers the display of call handling options like “hold” and “disconnect” on a mobile phone display.

With regard to the ’078 camera phone patent, the appeals court said that because the iPhone’s camera module has no internal memory for storing data, it does not infringe the patent, which describes a “means for processing and for storing” information.

“Although MobileMedia contends that the ‘main memory of the iPhone’ is the camera unit’s means for storing, this ‘main memory’ is not located within the iPhone camera module, which is what [the patent] requires,” the Federal Circuit wrote. “Therefore, we reverse the district court’s judgment that Apple infringes.”

With regard to the ’068 call handling patent, the appeals court held that it was invalid as obvious and reversed the finding that Apple infringed.

The two patents that the district court found Apple did not infringe are U.S. Patent Numbers 6,253,075, which covers a way of rejecting an incoming call when the user is already on a call, and RE 39,231, which covers a way of permitting a user to stop a ringtone for an incoming call without notifying the caller.

The Federal Circuit held that the lower court correctly found that the ’075 call rejection patent was obvious. However, it found that the judge misconstrued the claims of the ’231 ringtone patent.

For more information, see Law360.



Judge Rips ‘Ridiculous’ Nokia Bid To Seal

November 26th, 2014 Alexander No comments

A California federal judge denied and ripped into Nokia Corp.’s latest “ridiculous” request to seal documents in its fight with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. over the leaking of patent licensing terms between Nokia and Apple in Samsung’s ongoing patent war with the iPhone maker.

Judge Paul Grewal’s order declines Nokia’s request for leave to file a reconsideration of his earlier order denying seal on certain documents. This marks the latest instance of the judge making no secret of his exasperation with a flurry of seal requests from all the parties in the suit, which Nokia was brought into after Samsung disclosed the confidential details of a licensing deal between Apple and Nokia.

“The undersigned is not quite sure, but sealing in this case may just have officially passed from the sublime to the ridiculous,” Judge Grewal’s order says.

Among the portions Nokia wants blacked out are certain passages of publicly available news stories estimating the terms of Apple’s patent license with Nokia despite the fact that the articles are “available to anyone on the planet with a web browser and basic internet access,” Judge Grewal says.

The court may have been more forgiving of Nokia’s request if this were the second, third or fourth time, “but at some point, the cost of such unwarranted sealing requests to the taxpayers, the press and other parties with equally important claims to the court’s resources must take priority.”

Also in June, Judge Grewal addressed all the parties’ then-recent requests to seal dozens of documents, largely keeping them unsealed. He said there still was a backlog of requests stemming from 26 separate administrative motions to seal 134 documents.

At that time, he said that although “old dogs, it turns out, can learn new tricks” when it comes to exercising restraint with seal requests, Nokia’s seal requests were not narrowly tailored to confidential business information.

These disputes arise as part of the larger patent infringement suit Apple filed against Samsung, accusing it of infringing several design and utility patents pertaining to iPhone and related technology. A $930 million district-court verdict against Samsung is pending on appeal before the Federal Circuit.

For more information, see Law360.

Categories: Intellectual Property