Tonight one of the big outstanding issues in the Apple vs. Samsung case came to a close when Judge Lucy Koh ruled that Samsung's infringement of Apple patents was not in fact willful. At issue are the seven design and utility patents that the jury found Samsung had infringed in a $1.049 billion win for Apple last August. The jury had decided that Samsung's infringement in five of the instances had in fact been willful — a finding that could have led to a ballooning of the damages Samsung would be instructed to pay. As part of the post-verdict proceedings, Samsung's legal team asked Koh to consider whether this should be challenged. Judge Koh agreed.
As Koh writes in the ruling, for an ultimate finding of willfulness to hold Apple needed to prove that there was an "objectively high likelihood that its [Samsung's] actions constituted infringement of a valid patent." Samsung had argued that it had reason to believe Apple's patents were invalid — so that even if Samsung had infringed, it couldn't be found to have done so willfully. Koh found Samsung's arguments reasonable enough to rule out an overall finding of willful infringement. In other words, she believed Samsung went into the whole situation with a reasonable belief that it wasn't in the wrong.
Koh believed Samsung had a reasonable belief that it wasn't in the wrong
As a result, Apple won't be receiving any additional damages for willful infringement as it had hoped. However, it's important to remember that just because the willfulness has been overturned, the $1.049 billion infringement verdict itself hasn't. That said, Koh could in theory reduce the damages Samsung owes, though she has yet to offer any rulings to that effect at this time.
The willfulness finding followed a bevy of other rulings in connection with the case, with Judge Koh otherwise hewing closely to the jury's own findings — including a refusal to ramp up damages on several other grounds as Apple had requested. One exception was Samsung's '941 standards-essential patent, which covers wireless packet transmission. Judge Koh ruled that claims 10 and 15 of the patent were invalid — something the jury felt Apple hadn't proved. Since Apple wasn't found to have infringed on said patent claims in the first place, however, Koh's judgment has no immediate impact on this particular case.
Matt Macari contributed to this report.