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Samsung v. Nvidia: District Court Bifurcates Trial in Two Phases with the First Phase to Determine Infringement and Damages and the Second Phase to Determine Validity of the Patents

The plaintiff, Samsung, filed a motion for an order regarding the presentation of evidence. Samsung’s proposal included a “six-stage” process for presenting the evidence. In support of the proposal, Samsung argued that the “six-stage” process would help the jury understand the complex issues it would need to decide. The defendant opposed the motion, asserting that Samsung’s proposal would not contribute to a better understanding of the complex issues for the jury.

In ruling on the motion, the district court explained that “[h]aving reflected further upon the need to structure the presentation of evidence so that complex issues can be better understood by the jury; and having considered how the issues of infringement and invalidity are to be tried in the case (as explained by counsel); and having concluded that to do so will result in a more effective understanding of the issues, will avoid the prejudice that will inure to both sides if the issues of infringement and invalidity (as presented herein) are tried in a single trial; and having concluded that to do so will require counsel to present the case in a more efficient way that will offset any added expense associated with the need for some witnesses to give evidence twice, it is hereby ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority conferred by Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(b), the trial of the two remaining patents will be bifurcated.”

The district court then ordered the trial bifurcated into two phases: “(1) The parties will present evidence on infringement and damages, and the jury will reach a verdict on infringement and damages; and (2) If the jury reaches a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, then the same jury will hear the parties’ presentation of evidence on invalidity, and reach a second verdict on that issue.”

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Bifurcation is a difficult question in patent cases and how the case should be bifurcated can be a complex question. A defendant often will prefer to have the case bifurcated, particularly if the question of validity can be determined first and the issue of damages determined last. A plaintiff may also agree to bifurcation but will most likely want the issue of infringement determined first as well as damages. Here, the district court found that the presentation of the evidence would be easiest for the jury to determine if there was bifurcation and the district court selected a bifurcation that will resolve the issues of infringement and damages before the issue of validity.

Samsung Electronics Co., LTD. v. Nvidia Corp., Case No. 3:14cv757 (E.D. Va. March 10, 2016)

The authors of are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. For more information about this case, contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or