FOSS PATENTS: Federal Circuit extends stay of Samsung Galaxy Nexus injunction — for the time being

While jury selection is underway in the Apple v. Samsung trial in San Jose, California, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit just issued a ruling that is moderately favorable to Samsung (though it has no bearing on the ongoing trial because it’s related to a different case that Apple brought in February 2012 and that is presently scheduled to go to trial in March 2014). The appeals court decided to hold Samsung’s motion to stay the preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Nexus smartphone, which Samsung co-developed with Google, in abeyance. In practical terms, this means (as the order clarifies) that the temporary stay (a stay until the court has decided on the motion to stay the injunction for the entire duration of the appeal) remains in effect.

To put this into context, here’s the timeline:

1) On June 29, Apple won a preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Nexus over a Siri-related unified search patent.

2) On July 3, Judge Lucy Koh denied a Samsung motion to stay the injunction and Apple posted a $95.6 million bond.

3) On July 6, the Federal Circuit granted an immediate, temporary stay of the injunction — a stay until a decision on a stay for the entire duration of the appeal is made.

4) A week later, on July 13, the appeals court granted Samsung’s motion for an expedited appeal. According to that expedited schedule, the briefing process should be completed by early August at the lastest.

5) On July 20, it scheduled a hearing for August 20. A decision on the appeal is likely to come down in the days or weeks following the hearing.

Today’s order doesn’t indicate when the abeyance period for the motion to stay may end. Basically, the court can decide to adjudicate the motion whenever it believes it has obtained enough information and has had enough time to think about it. The court might make a decision after the briefing process, or after the hearing.

I said that this is only “moderately favorable to Samsung”. That’s because it shouldn’t be extremely difficult for the court to grant the motion to stay: since the appeal can be adjudicated anytime after the August 20 hearing, it would make sense to just stay the injunction for the remainder of the appeals process given that a disruption of its sales is clearly more harmful to Samsung than an extended stay is to Apple. If the court needs more information to decide on the motion to stay, Samsung must make some more headway to prevail on its appeal. The next major milestone is Samsung’s reply brief, which it may (and presumably will) file on or before August 6.


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