back to article Samsung goes to US Supreme Court to wriggle out of paying Apple millions of dollars

Samsung is taking its patent battle with Apple to the US Supreme Court. The Korean electronics kingpin has asked the US top court to hear its appeal of a jury decision that found its handsets in violation of multiple patents held by Apple, according to The San Jose Mercury News. Samsung did not return a request for comment. …

  1. ratfox
    Megaphone

    Not likely

    I think the Supreme Court would be fools to hear the case, and I think Samsung know it. Or they're being taken for a ride by their lawyers who are swearing they can make it if only they receive a little bit more money.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Not likely

      SCOTUS by definition isn't an appeals court unless there is some point of Constitutional law involved. That's the purpose of SCOTUS.... And since not just any lawyer can present to SCOTUS, I have to wonder who's advising the legal team.

  2. Malcolm Weir

    I think it may well be a delaying strategy: as it appears that at least one of the (frankly ridiculous) design patents is close to being ruled invalid by the USPTO, if SCOTUS takes a few months to decide whether to hear the case, then its probable that by the time Samsung has to go back to the district court to pay the damages, the award for that particular patent will be null and void (as will the patent). THAT gives Samsung yet another bite at the apple (as it were) to argue that the jury award as a whole should be reheard.

    It's also possible that SCOTUS might be interested in the mechanism by which damages were calculated: right now, the calculation is made on the revenue of the infringing product, with no attempt to determine the value of the infringing invention/design. So if the Samsung device had 100 times the functionality of the Apple thing (which it doesn't, but hypothetically...), the court still operates on the basis that the Samsung thing was successful because it looked like the Apple one.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I think you may have hit the nail on the head.

      Samsung absolutely needs this case to last until the USPTO renders a final decision on that patent. With an invalidate patent, Apple will have had the rug pulled out from under its feet and the next trial will likely be very much more favorable to Samsung.

      Apple is likely going to do everything it can to make the patent stick (if it can).

    2. Schultz

      Delaying strategy

      The strategy for Samsung is obvious: delay payment as much as legally possible. Once the money is in Apple's pocket, they'll have another legal fight at hand to get any of it back, even if Apple's patent is invalidated.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Delaying strategy

        The strategy for Samsung is obvious: delay payment as much as legally possible. Once the money is in Apple's pocket, they'll have another legal fight at hand to get any of it back, even if Apple's patent is invalidated.

        Yes, and inflation reduces the value of the award. Not by a lot, but hey, every little bit helps. (I'm assuming the terms of the award don't account for that - that there's no interest attached while Samsung are pursuing legal review. Of course I may be wrong.)

        Samsung may also be betting that exchange rates will be better when they finally do pay, too.

    3. Eddy Ito

      Another possibility is that even if it doesn't hear the full case SCOTUS can remand the case to a lower court to have another look at it or even force a new trial. In any event, I think you're right and Samsung buys a few months for relatively cheap money.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I really doubt SCOTUS cares about the method of calculating damages, but I agree this is a delaying tactic. The longer Samsung can drag it out, the better chance they might get some help from the USPTO in knocking down the amount.

    Plus they know once the real final yes-we-mean-it-this-time-no-more-appeals-dammit ruling is reached, Apple may go back and sue for more recent phones and would have an easier time with the jury having won one against Samsung already.

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    A mere sideshow

    If Samsung (USA) Think that this is their most important issue then they are living on another panet.

    IMHO their major concern must be the shrinking profits that their Mobile Phone division is making. That is not alone. The margins on HD TV's in close to zero and 3D TV really didn't take off in the way that manufacturers like Samsung hoped.

    Sure their market share is holding up pretty well in some markets but the profit they make from each phone when they compete against the likes of Xaomi is getting less and less with every quarter.

    Interesting times ahead for investors.

    1. g e

      Re: A mere sideshow

      And not paying out 1/2BN USD would surely help those profits a little

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A mere sideshow

        If Samsung's Accountants were on the job the money for the payout would have been set aside years ago and included as a write down in the Accounts.

        Just like what the UK Banks do for 'bad debts'

        http://www.accountingtools.com/bad-debt-expense

        Any that they end up not having to pay Apple will be a nice little windfall.

        1. Named coward

          Re: A mere sideshow

          A bad debt is a receivable sum which is no longer expected to be received. How would a payment for patent infringement be considered a bad debt? If anyone, then it would be apple that could eventually consider this amount a bad debt (with some creative accounting and if Samsung manages to wriggle out of it).

          1. Malcolm Weir

            Re: A mere sideshow

            It's not a bad debt, it's a deferred liability (deferred during the appeals process). The liability is real, and Samsung will have already taken appropriate action (not least because having to pay that much money tends to reduce profits noticeably, and reducing profits reduces taxes).

            However, that's the accounting bit, which is largely irrelevant to this point: Samsung has posted (was required to post) what is known as a "supersedeas bond" with the court. A redacted docket entry approving the amount of such a bond is here: https://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/california/candce/5:2012cv00630/251113/2096. While the amounts Samsung is on the hook for are redacted, you can see that on the counter claims that Apple lost, and for which Samsung was awarded $158K in damages, Apple's supersedeas bond was agreed at $200K, or more than 125% of the award. Yep... bonds tend to be in excess of 100% of the award, which means that Samsung may have already posted a bond of $1.25B to cover the appeal of the initial $1B award!

            (This is from the second trial, which is not the subject of the SCOTUS appeal. But the rules and the courtroom are the same).

            The point of the bond is to prevent the use the appeal process to "run out the clock"... "Ooops, sorry, yes we owe you huge sums of money, but somehow we've lost it all and are no bankrupt with no assets other than this elegant ballpoint pen..."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A mere sideshow

      "Interesting times ahead for investors."

      Capitalism will die in a fire, and since we are ruled by the worst among us, either the whole planet will burn or we'll all end up in slavery, since everybody is too well fed and have become completely oblivious.

  5. chasil

    FRAND & kill switch

    Samsung offered several patents on FRAND terms that Apple simply refused to license and pay - that should be part of the appeal.

    Since Samsung makes a large percentage of Apple's CPUs, they should install a "kill switch" so Samsung can remotely shut down iPhones where local jurisdiction has ruled that an iPhone violates the patents of Samsung or others.

    If I were running Samsung, I would be fighting Apple much more intelligently.

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