Apple has won an emphatic victory in its US patent battle with Samsung, after a California jury found that the South Korean electronics group infringed a substantial majority of contested design and user-interface patents.
The jury awarded just over $1bn in damages to Apple after it found that several of Samsung’s smartphones “wilfully” infringed the patented appearance and features of the iPhone including so-called “rubberbanding” scrolling, its sleek glass front and its grid of colourful, round-cornered apps.
The jury also found that Apple did not infringe any of Samsung’s wireless technology patents, depriving the Korean firm of any damages.
Mark Lemley, professor at Stanford Law School, said the verdict was “sweeping”, noting that the award in Apple’s favour set a new high bar in US intellectual-property cases.
“There is no larger patent verdict that has survived appeal,” he said, referring to two bigger awards that were later reduced. “One of the things about the sweeping nature of the win is it’s awfully hard to imagine the federal circuit reversing on all these issues … The whole trial, Samsung was on the defensive.”
The verdict in Apple’s favour will send shockwaves through the smartphone industry, with potential ramifications for other handset makers, like Samsung, that use Google’s Android operating system.
Exactly a year after he handed over chief executive duties to Tim Cook, Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs’ wish to “destroy Android because it’s a stolen product” has come a step closer, analysts said.
“It’s a major victory in Apple’s proxy war against Google,” said Benedict Evans of Enders Analysis. “It will create lots of ripples of uncertainty through the Android world. There will be the concern of what else they can get sued for.”
The US ruling will have a “global effect”, he added, because device makers will be unwilling to create different products for different markets.
Apple applauded the court for what it said was a “loud and clear message that stealing isn’t right”.
“The mountain of evidence presented during the trial showed that Samsung’s copying went far deeper than even we knew,” Apple said. “The lawsuits between Apple and Samsung were about much more than patents or money. They were about values … We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy.”
But Samsung says it will appeal against the decision describing it as “a loss for the American consumer”.
“We will move immediately to file post-verdict motions to overturn this decision in this court and, if we are not successful, we will appeal this decision to the Court of Appeals,” it said in a statement.
“The verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies … Samsung will continue to innovate and offer choices for the consumer.”
Apple Cleverly Acknowledges A UK Court Samsung Ruling
However, in a case tried in Germany regarding the same patent, the court found that Samsung engaged in unfair competition by copying the iPad design. A U.S. jury also found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple’s design and utility patents, awarding over one billion U.S. dollars in damages to Apple Inc. So while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognized that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung willfully copied Apple’s far more popular iPad.
So, even though Apple disagrees with the U.K. ruling, they appear pretty pleased that the judge ruled there was no infringement because the iPad is “a cool design” whereas the Galaxy Tab is “not as cool”. Oh, and the link to this statement is a tiny little one at the bottom of their UK homepage, right next to that other useless link about U.K.’s use of asinine cookies…
Samsung must be fuming. Not that there is anything they can do about it. Apple have complied with the ruling. Just not in the way it was perhaps intended.
The ruling did not go entirely in Apple’s favour. The jury found that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab did not copy Apple’s iPad design and was less emphatic in ruling that Apple’s “trade dress”, including its products’ overall impression and “fame”, had been infringed by its Korean rival.
The trial in San Jose, California has been seen as the most crucial of several intellectual-property cases between the two companies around the world.
Apple had sought up to $2.7bn in damages from Samsung, which had in turn asked for $400m from its US rival.
After Apple and Samsung were given 25 hours each to make their case, the jury spent fewer than 22 hours deliberating. During the four-week hearing, the jury of seven men and two women were asked to consider more than 700 distinct questions on a complex set of design and utility patents.
Apple’s technical patents at issue covered iPhone touchscreen features such as “tap to zoom” and “bounce back” scrolling. Its design patents cover iPhone elements such as its edge-to-edge glass front, rounded corners and app icons, as well as the iPad. The “trade dress” claims alleged that consumers could be confused between the two companies’ products.
In its countersuit, Samsung asserted seven utility patents involving wireless transmission technology, cameras and imaging, and playing music in the background while using other features of a device.
Apple shares traded up 1.8 per cent in after-hours trading following the verdict.
The California verdict follows Friday’s earlier ruling in another patent case between Apple and Samsung in South Korea that saw more than a dozen of both companies’ devices banned from sale in the country.
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