Apple wins $1bn in patent suit against Samsung

Aug 24, 2012

Apple won more than $1 billion in a massive US court victory over Samsung on Friday, in one of the biggest patent cases in decades—a verdict that could have huge market repercussions.

A jury in San Jose, California awarded $1.049 billion to the US tech giant, according to court documents. But analysts said the damages could be tripled because jurors found Samsung "willfully" infringed on patents.

The jury rejected the South Korean electronics firm's counterclaims against Apple, which had claimed its iconic iPhone and iPad had been illegally copied.

From Seoul, Samsung reacted by saying it will contest the US verdict.

"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," the company said in a statement.

The decision appeared to be an overwhelming victory for Apple, but it was not immediately clear whether it would halt sales of Samsung devices or affect newer models released since the case was filed.

"This is a huge, crushing win for Apple," said Brian Love, a professor of patent law at Santa Clara University.

"All of its patents were held valid, and all but one were held to be infringed by most or all accused Samsung products. Even better for the company, five of the seven patents were held to be willfully infringed by Samsung."

Love said this means that Judge Lucy Koh "now has the discretion to triple Apple's damages award, which is already a monstrous and unprecedented" sum.

The case, which is almost certain to face appeal, could shake up the sizzling market for mobile devices in which Apple has been losing ground to rivals like Samsung that use the free Android system developed by Google.

"Samsung is a proxy for both Google and the other Android vendors and better protected than most," said analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group.

"I think this will force a reset on Android products as they are reengineered to get around Apple's patents."

The jury decided the case with over 700 separate claims in less than three days of deliberations.

In one minor snag, the judge sent them back Friday after discovering they had made damage awards for two devices not found to have infringed, and the jurors then revised the award, which had been $1.051 billion.

The verdict affects patents on a range of Samsung products including some of its popular Galaxy smartphones and its Galaxy 10 tablet—devices alleged to have been copied from the iPhone and iPad.

But some devices are not affected, including the flagship Galaxy III S recently released, although they could be targeted in separate litigation.

Technology analyst Jeff Kagan said of the verdict: "This is a great day for Apple. And it will turn into a very expensive day for Samsung."

Kagan said it was not immediately clear whether Samsung would be able to continue to use the technology and pay Apple for the right to do so, or if they must pull their devices and redesign them.

In any case, the verdict in the case—one of several pending in global courts—is likely to have massive repercussions in the hottest part of the technology sector, smartphones and tablets.

Even a delay in sales could endanger Samsung's position in the US market, where it is currently the top seller of smartphones.

A survey by research firm IDC showed Samsung shipped 50.2 million smartphones globally in the April-June period, while Apple sold 26 million iPhones. IDC said Samsung held 32.6 percent of the market to 16.9 percent for Apple.

Samsung had steadfastly denied the charges by Apple, claiming it developed its devices independently, and countersued in the case, seeking more than $400 million for infringement on its wireless patents.

The verdict came the same day a South Korean court ruled Apple and Samsung infringed on each other's patents on mobile devices, awarding damages to both technology giants and imposing a partial ban on product sales in South Korea.

The court banned sales in South Korea of Apple's iPhone 4 and iPad 2, as well as Samsung's Galaxy S and Galaxy S II among other products.

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User comments : 20

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Deathclock
3.8 / 5 (13) Aug 25, 2012
this is getting completely ridiculous, we need to completely revamp patent laws.

I currently own an ipod touch and an iPad, as well as a samsung galaxy II... I'll never buy an apple product again thanks to this douchebaggery.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.9 / 5 (11) Aug 25, 2012
Odd how the fact that Samsung was making phones that looked and operated somewhat like an Iphone before the Iphone existed seemed to have little impact on the case.

The verdict smells.
Skepticus
1 / 5 (3) Aug 25, 2012
Well, Samsung just has to find a way to put that $1bn cost to the parts that they will supply to Apple for future Iproducts, then the Apple fans will pay for it in the end.
MIBO
3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 25, 2012
samsung just has to triple the price it charges Apple for displays and SDRAM. This will hurt Apple and put up the prices of i-S...
The peolpe will simply buy Samsung devices overseas and they will increase their market share anyway so Samsung overall will not lose out.

The problem with Patent trials like this is they are decided by a Jury who have no technical expertise whatsoever, the ruling that the evidence of prior art being inadmissable evidence stinks of corruption, but presumably this will be allowed in the appeal as it's clear to anybody with a reasonable technical knowledge that this is a miscarriage of justice.
SatanLover
1 / 5 (2) Aug 25, 2012
i find it funny how they sue samsung but without samsung they will get behind on the market since samsung is a market leader in many hardware parts. sure they can buy LG screens or whatever company but they suck compared to the market leading samsung screens.
Noumenon
3.6 / 5 (69) Aug 25, 2012
this is getting completely ridiculous, we need to completely revamp patent laws.

I currently own an ipod touch and an iPad, as well as a samsung galaxy II... I'll never buy an apple product again thanks to this douchebaggery.


Samsung did copy the look and feel of the iPhone to take advantage of Apples marketing success ,... even down to the finger zoom in and out gesture. Come on. Everyone complains that Apple didn't invent any technology they use (which is non-sense), but here we have Samsung blatantly copying Apple, and people then complain about copyright laws instead of Samsung.
gopher65
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 25, 2012
Noumenon: Yup, Samsung copied Apple. It's certainly true. They should have had to pay for that as well. But that doesn't change the fact that certain aspects of this ruling stick.

First off, Apple has now had its patent for "rectangular objects with rounded corners" secured. Ummmm... what about all the rectangles with rounded corners (including phones!) that came out before Apple filed that patent? That's ridiculous.

Secondly, Apple seems to be claiming in the media (and the court case), that it never copies anyone. Pffft. Remember when Win Phone 7 first came out, and it was miles behind the other phone OSes, but still had a couple of unique features? Right after it came out, Apple put out an update copying those few unique features of WP7. Cool, that's expected. Then a few months later Google copied those same features from WP7 for Android. Then Apple accused Google of copying iOS, and threatened to sue! I mean... what kind of stuck up jerks would do something like that to Google?
Noumenon
3.6 / 5 (64) Aug 25, 2012
Perhaps the copyrights had expired for the Win Phone 7. In anycase, I agree that one shouldn't be able to copyright rounded-corners,.... but the case may have been settled based on the overall look and interaction of the devices, which obviously Samsung copied to ride on Apples marketing success. Google has loads of patents themselves, as does Samsung, and they will sue if it benefits them. All companies copy each other, and they sue each other. Apple is aggressive in protecting its rights, as it should be.

Samsung will profit despite the $1 billion award, and they probably knew it all along.
_etabeta_
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 25, 2012
Apple is acting worse than a patent troll. Just like a bunch of spoiled brats that think they OWN 100% of the smartphone market. Instead of investing on innovation, they are trying to block their competitors in the courts instead of on the store shelves. Those totally incompetent jurors (yes, totally incompetent, you just can't call an ordinary person from the street and decide a case like this!) have opened a way for Apple to control the entire US market and demand the prices that they want from US consumers, which will dearly pay for this. If the US doesn't urgently revise their patent system, they will inevitably wind up in a new technological dark age.
Noumenon
3.8 / 5 (64) Aug 25, 2012
Those totally incompetent jurors (yes, totally incompetent, you just can't call an ordinary person from the street and decide a case like this!)


Aren't you an ordinary person with an opinion? The jurors at least have evidence before them.
Infinion
1 / 5 (2) Aug 25, 2012
"Kagan said it was not immediately clear if Samsung would be able to continue to use the technology and pay Apple for the right to do so, or if they must pull their devices and redesign them."

they're not touching my phone
rwinners
not rated yet Aug 26, 2012
This is a very catholic verdict. Apple is suing Samsung around the globe, but this, I believe, is the only suit that it has won.
Remember, this is about a world wide market. The US is only a small part of the pie. China and India are much more important.
Would the author of this article compile a list of suits and verdicts for those of us more interested in a world picture?
ziphead
1 / 5 (1) Aug 26, 2012
"Apple wins $1bn in patent suit against Samsung"

Only in the US-of-A could such suit succeed; American parochialism at its best.
rwinners
not rated yet Aug 26, 2012
The sad thing about this decision is that it will be countered around the world. Ultimately, Apple will loose.
xX_GT_Xx
5 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2012
A lot of spouting off on the internetz about this verdict. And as is often the case on the internetz, it is accompanied by little fact.

The fact is the Samsung did not even try to claim that their products did not copy Apple's. Rather, they tried to claim that Apple's patents were invalid because they were for things that were natural extensions of the technology, obvious to anyone, and therefore not patentable.

Which is nonsense. Plenty of things are obvious and natural after the fact. Steering wheels are obvious and natural, now, but auto makers took 10 years to stop making cars with tillers. Obvious and natural things are not immune to patents either. The computer mouse is patented, for example.

One may argue that Apple didn't invent flat screens, or rectangles, or on/off switches, but design patents don't claim to have invented anything. Design patents cover the look & feel, not the function.
xX_GT_Xx
not rated yet Aug 27, 2012
There was a use patent in the case too. Samsung could have lost on this one alone. The whole point of a UI is the methods used by the user to get the computer-thing to do stuff. Apple patented a UI that recognizes taps & double taps, two finger pinch & zoom, scrolling dependent on finger speed & direction, and a host of other things. Samsung copied that.

And before anyone says the obvious - no, Apple does not claim to have invented touch screen technology. Just this particular way of using it. One doesn't need to have invented glass to patent a window, or tires to patent a radial, etc.
MIBO
not rated yet Aug 27, 2012
The point about a patent is that it's supposed to require an inventive step that is not obvious to somebody skilled in the art.

I really cannot see where having rounded corners involves an inventive step.
I also fail to see how speed of movement is inventive, since such mechanisms were in use for years with Mice, when the mouse is replaced by a touchscreen it becomes obvious to anybody to implement all of the user interface features on a touchscreen that were avaialable with a mouse.
It's also difficult to see how samsung deliberately set out to copy such features, i.e. wilful infringement, when the UI is part of android and not developed by Samsung.

xX_GT_Xx
5 / 5 (2) Aug 27, 2012
The point about a patent is that it's supposed to require an inventive step that is not obvious to somebody skilled in the art.

I really cannot see where having rounded corners involves an inventive step.


Apple did not patent rounded corners. Or rectangles, or rectangles with rounded corners. Samsung tried to portray it that way to make it sound ridiculous. Apple patented a rectangular flatscreen handheld computer, with a beveled back, rounded corners, control button bottom center, headphone jack up on the right, USB cable thingy jack on the bottom edge, and whatever else is on an iPad or iPhone that I'm forgetting. The patents have diagrams from multiple angles. You can google it, ironically.
xX_GT_Xx
not rated yet Aug 27, 2012
It's also difficult to see how samsung deliberately set out to copy such features, i.e. wilful infringement, when the UI is part of android and not developed by Samsung.


I'll admit that I do not know the details of the phone & pad models used in the lawsuit. Samsung generally does throw its own UI over whatever comes locked into the OS. That fact that the Android OS kind of requires certain user actions to do things is undoubtedly part of Apple's larger war with Google.
gopher65
5 / 5 (1) Aug 29, 2012
Samsung uses the Android UI with a number of elements slapped on top of it. It was these added elements that Apple was suing about (in the UI portion of this case).

The most talked about UI feature that Samsung copied was the "bounce to indicate menu end" feature of iOS. Basically the screen bounces a bit once you've scrolled too far. Samsung no longer uses this, probably because they recognized that this was one of the few valid parts of Apple's copying claims (it's been replaced with the "menu scrolls from end to beginning" setup. Much better for navigation).

This is because it wasn't an intrinsically obvious extension of existing mouse movements, like "pinch to zoom" etc are. Pinch to zoom, for instance, is nothing more than a direct translation of a middle mouse scroll wheel into a touch interface. Nothing new. Bounce at menu end didn't exactly come out of thin air, but it was far more innovative than much of the rest of the iOS GUI and UI, most of which was highly derivative.

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