There's no question that the smartphone patent wars are a bruising business. And in the headline battle — Apple Inc.'s fight with Samsung Electronics Co. — Samsung is looking especially black and blue this month.
For delivering the latest nasty welt, Apple can thank two of its bruisingest lawyers: Harold McElhinny and Rachel Krevans of Morrison & Foerster. As we reported, last Friday the pair persuaded the U.S. International Trade Commission to rule that some of Samsung's devices infringe two Apple patents, paving the way for an import ban to take effect in October.
The decision promises to keep Samsung smarting for a good while, and it wasn't the only painful news Samsung got this month. The Obama Administration kicked things off on Aug. 3, when it nixed an ITC import ban that Samsung won against some Apple devices last year. Six days later Samsung's lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan pivoted to arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, where they're fighting an injunction against Samsung phones and tablets that a San Jose federal jury found to infringe Apple's patents last August.
Then McElhinny and Krevans landed their big blow at the ITC. The agency's Aug. 9 decision gives Samsung 60 days to stop selling mobile devices that infringe two Apple patents — one related to touch-screen technology and another relating to headset jacks. Barring another intervention by the White House, Samsung will be prohibited from importing infringing devices into the U.S. While it's unclear how many Samsung models will be affected by the ban, Foss Patents blogger Florian Mueller points out that Samsung has posted surety bonds with the ITC — an indication that some part of the company's existing inventory is in jeopardy.
Morrison & Foerster's McElhinny handled opening arguments and Apple's witnesses at the ITC, while Krevans delivered closing arguments and handled technical witnesses. Both declined to comment to the Litigation Daily. Unlike the ITC import ban that Samsung won against Apple, Apple's victory is seen as less vulnerable to a White House veto because the patents at issue relate to technical specifications, not industry standard technology.
Both sides in the Apple/Samsung showdown have taken Litigator of the Week honors before. We previously spotlighted MoFo's Krevans, McElhinny, and Michael Jacobs — along with William Lee of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr — for their sweeping $1.05 billion jury win in San Jose last August. Samsung counsel Charles Verhoeven of Quinn Emanuel took the prize back in June for his own ITC win — now overruled by the Obama Administration. Wilmer's Lee led the defense for Apple in that case.