On Oct. 7, 2016, in a sharply divided en banc decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit once again confronted “Apple vs. Samsung,” vacating a portion of a panel decision finding in favor of Samsung, and affirming and reinstating the district court’s judgment in Sony’s favor. Apple wins this round, but the saga will certainly continue. At this point, practitioners will find particularly helpful guidance in the majority’s analysis—especially what qualifies as “substantial evidence” upon which a jury may rely in finding on the merits and whether a patented invention should be deemed obvious and unworthy of protection. Apple v. Samsung Electronics, 2016 WL 5864573 (Fed Cir en banc, Oct. 7, 2016).

As a recap, a jury had found mostly for Apple in its patent infringement suit against Samsung involving patents allegedly protecting certain smartphone features and functions (described in more detail below), and Sony had prevailed in fighting back Samsung’s post-jury verdict attacks. On appeal, the Federal Circuit addressed three Sony patents and issues: (1) the district court’s grant of summary judgment of infringement by Samsung of Sony’s U.S. Patent No. 8,074,172 (’172 patent), (2) the district court’s denial of Samsung’s post-jury verdict motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) regarding Samsung’s infringement of Sony’s U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647 (’647 patent); and (3) the district court’s denial of JMOL of invalidity based on obviousness of Sony’s U.S. Patent No. 8,046,721 (’721 patent) and the ’172 patent (after the jury found the ’721 patent infringed and both not invalid).

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