Prior Art: Samsung v Apple

Last week’s court decision in California highlighted many interesting issues about intellectual property in mobile telephony. The case raised a curtain on the indeterminacy of words, including “reasonable”, “non-discriminatory” and “essential”, without quite managing to pin them down. Of particular interest to UK watchers was the jury foreman being invited onto Bloomberg to give a blow-by-blow commentary of the decision, in particular the rejection of Samsung’s defence that there was prior art i.e. that Apple’s patents were invalid because the innovations had already been described. Seeing this video for the first time made me anxious that the description of prior art in US patent law that I have covered in lectures was totally wrong. In the UK after jury trials lawyers can be left baffled by the verdict and suspect that the jury have taken an idiosyncratic interpretation of the law, but in the US all they need to do is turn on the TV and see the proof.

The issues around prior art raised by the case and the interview are discussed in depth on the Groklaw website.

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