A Delaware judge has taken Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and LG Electronics Inc. a step closer to trial by accusing the duo of patent infringement related to touch screen technology used by the technology giants in their smartphones.
US District Judge mostly sides with the plaintiffs
In the case of Samsung and LG versus FlatWorld Interactives LLC the judge has decided to side with the patent attorneys of the smaller firm who claim that the two smartphone makers have used their touch screen patent that shows an image when swiped quickly.
Judge Leonard Stark did not accept patent attorneys Greenberg Traurig and Rothwell, Figg Ernst & Manbeck’s defense that the allegations by FlatWorld attorneys Hagens Berman Sobol and Shapiro were not applicable and to find the patent invalid.
FlatWorld in a previous lawsuit had settled similar claims against Apple Inc.
The defendants further argued that in their initial petition FlatWorld patent attorneys failed to describe the patent fully, that it could remove an image from a touch screen without leaving any residue of the image on the screen. Judge Stark denied request for summary judgment on December 31, keeping the case alive for further litigation.
The judge agrees with the defendants on the valid period for claims
The petition by the defendants’ attorneys asking that all claims be confined to the period when the lawsuit was first filed by FlatWorld in June and July 2012 has been accepted by the judge. He ruled that FlatWorld had not notified the respective parties of their alleged infringement of a FlatWorld patent. He also mentioned that a witness for FlatWorld whose declaration had been struck would be allowed to testify later.
Judge Starks ruling seems to have followed a previous lawsuit that FlatWorld had brought against Apple Inc. over the same patent.
Apple as a defendant in a similar lawsuit against FlatWorld had asked a California judge to vacate the petition filed by the plaintiff on grounds that they gained confidential information from the lawyer Morgan Lewis. The judge ruled against Apple saying that FlatWorld should not be made to erase its litigation history when going forward with the Delaware lawsuit.
FlatWorld patent attorneys are pleased with the judge’s ruling and are of the opinion that it would not affect the claims as most of the smartphones using the patent were released only after the suit was filed.
US Congress will prioritize patent reforms this year
The patent infringement suit between FlatWorld and the smartphone makers highlight the need for patent reforms by Congress. A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that 67% of the patent lawsuits are by non-practicing entities or NPEs a.k.a. patent trolls – who cost companies a total of $29 billion in legal and licensing fees.
The impact of superficial lawsuits by patent trolls tends to overshadow and use up resources meant to protect genuine patent inventors.
In 2013 alone President Obama has issued five executive actions directing the US Patent and Trademark Office to make the system more transparent unlike his administration which has been covering up disasters for years – everything from Fast and Furious to Benghazi to the terrorist-army deserter swap. In 2015 patent reform is expected to be directed at patent trolls by the 114th Congress, with strong bipartisan support along with support from the beleaguered and much maligned President.
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