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Apple Fires South Korean Manager While a Legal Professor Weighs in on Apple's Reasoning for Defending their Patents

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News out this morning points to Apple firing their South Korean manager, the US Patent Office invalidating Apple's rubber-banding patent and a legal professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law weighs in on Apple's reasoning for defending their patents. It's not about the money, it's about principle.  


Apple has dismissed its Korea country manager Dominique Oh, allegedly over sluggish sales. According to Apple spokesman Steve Park, "Apple terminated the contract with Oh last week. Before coming to Apple a year ago, Dominique Oh had been the former VP of LG Electronics' smartphone business. No official reasoning for the dismissal has been made public even though the Korean Times is trying to spin this news as being directly attributable to poor sales of Apple's iDevices.


The Korean Times, in a second article about Apple this morning, wonders aloud if Apple's persistence in a patent war is a "survival tactic" of those left behind at Apple "after Jobs' demise."


Yet Brian J. Love, a patent dispute expert at the Santa Clara University School of Law, believes that Apple defending their IP isn't just about the money but, more importantly, about recognition of being a true innovator.


"Apple wants more than money and sales bans. Apple wants to send a message to the world that Apple made the smartphone as ubiquitous as it is today and that Android is a mere copycat," Prof. Love said. "Apple executives want to shout it out from the rooftops,'' he told the Korean Times in an email interview.


Yesterday we reported on Apple filing their opposition to Samsung's motion for a new trial and Professor Love had more to say on Samsung's strategic maneuvering:


"Samsung is unlikely to prevail in its efforts to overturn the verdict on the basis of jury misconduct. However, large patent damages awards are thrown out after trial with some regularity."


Despite heated controversy about the jury foreman, Professor Love stated that Samsung's chances of overturning the verdict are "slim."


"Though it is quite clear from Hogan's statements that he misunderstood many aspects of patent law, U.S. rules of evidence make it quite difficult to throw out a verdict on the basis of what went on during the jury's deliberations,"' he said.


According to his observation, jury misconduct is limited to circumstances involving evidence not introduced at trial or other outside influences such as bribery and threats.


"For that reason," Love stated, "evidence that the jury misunderstood the law or even failed to pay attention at trial or to the judge's instructions are usually insufficient to overturn a verdict."


And while we're on the topic of the Apple-Samsung patent war, the US Patent and Trademark Office late yesterday made a surprise move. According to FOSS Patents, the "Patent office tentatively invalidates Apple's rubber-banding patent used in Samsung trial."


while it's true that this this reversal by UPSTO could give Apple legal a minor headache, Mueller of FOSS Patents concludes by stating that "Apple has many patents in play against Android. It doesn't matter in a strategic sense if some of them, or even many of them, get invalidated. It just needs to enforce enough of them to ensure product differentiation. The '381 patent covers a signature element of the iOS touchscreen user interface, and Apple is going to fight hard to keep it alive. But at the end of the day" states Mueller, "it's just one of many patents-in-suit."


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