SHERMAN – Electronics giant Samsung now faces triple the originally proposed damages for patent infringement on its mobile phone cameras, according to a ruling issued Aug. 24 in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III ordered an increase of Samsung’s penalty to $20.9 million from the $7 million originally recommended by a jury in February. Mazzant cited the fact that Samsung had knowingly misrepresented its arguments under oath in the jury trial and knowingly completed work that violated existing patents.

The original case was filed over patents regarding cellphone cameras. Imperium IP Holdings LTD contended that Samsung was using its imaging technology without paying to acknowledge its patents in that area.

Mazzant agreed, finding that Samsung did not provide evidence at trial that it had independently developed and/or acquired the camera technologies at issue in this case, and its representatives lied under oath when they claimed to only have found out about Imperium’s patents as a result the case.

“Enhancement is appropriate here to address defendant's willful infringement and conduct," Mazzant wrote in his opinion. "The court enhances damages to the maximum extent allowable under § 284 given the totality of the circumstances.”

Keith Hylton, a patent attorney and professor at Boston University School of Law, said the ability to make such changes comes thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Halo Electronics v. Pulse electronics in July. The opinion gives lower courts the power to increase damages in patent cases by up to three times the original amount.

“What Halo did was it said to lower courts: ‘You guys have more discretion now in whether to enhance damages.’ The court was able to take advantage of that in this case,” Hylton told the Southeast Texas Record.

Further, the Halo decision makes it unlikely that the increased damages could be successfully appealed.

“If court has reasonable justification for enhancing damages, it’s unlikely that an appellate court would overturn that decision,” Hylton said.  

While $21 million might be considered the cost of doing business for large companies like Samsung, the Halo decision allows for the initial damage amount to be tripled, which Hylton said could make the difference in whether not not a plaintiff decides to file a patent infringement claim.

“It gives plaintiffs stronger incentives to enforce their patents and leverage in bargaining with corporation,” Hylton said. “As an example, the difference between $7 million and $21 million could be the determining factor in whether it’s worthwhile to sue.”

Samsung's next legal battle will come in October when arguments in its design patent case against Apple will be heard before the Supreme Court.

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