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Apple wins $120M in latest Samsung patent battle, more to come

updated 08:09 pm EDT, Fri May 2, 2014

Samsung guilty on two key patents, avoids serious damages

A jury comprised largely of self-described "non-technical" users of modern technology has delivered a mixed verdict in the latest Apple-Samsung patent trial, with Samsung found not guilty of infringing two of Apple's five contested patents, guilty as charged of copying Apple's "data detector" and auto-correct technology, and a mixed result on the controversial "slide to unlock" patent. Apple was, for the first time outside of South Korea, found guilty of infringing a (purchased) Samsung patent, but neither side saw significant damages awarded.

More importantly, the jury has issued what amounts to a slap on the wrist to Samsung in terms of damages, awarding only $120 million to Apple -- far shy of the $2.2 billion it was seeking. Apple had asked the jury, in essence, to award it a huge damages fee as an incentive to get Samsung to stop copying Apple's technology.

Instead, the jury appears to have opted to leave punitive damages in the hands of Judge Lucy Koh, and instead awarded Apple roughly $4 per infringing device, about 10 percent of what the company was looking for on a per-unit basis. The iPhone maker was also found guilty of infringing one of Samsung's patents, but the jury awarded only $158,400 in damages. Both companies could see much higher punitive damages from Judge Koh, though she has a track record of avoiding such penalties -- she awarded no punitive damages against Samsung in the previous trial, despite obvious wilfulness as found by the jury.

The verdict -- very likely to be appealed by both sides -- puts both companies in the position of being able to request sales injunctions on the infringing devices. Samsung's Galaxy S III, still widely available, was picked by the jury as the most infringing of the devices, accounting for nearly half of the $119,625,000 awarded as a kind of "forced royalty" to Apple.

Attorneys are presently going over the damages form to be sure no mistakes were made. In the previous Apple-Samsung patent trial, the jury awarded Apple over $1 billion in damages (based on findings relating to a completely different set of patents that were design-related rather than software), but errors in the calculations of the damages led to a limited retrial, where Apple's award was reduced to $940 million.

Apple attorneys noticed that the jury seemingly forgot to award any royalty damages to Apple for Samsung's infringement (in the Galaxy S II) of Apple's '172 patent, otherwise known as "auto-correction" technology. Judge Koh decided to keep the verdict intact, but decided to ask the jury if they wanted to deliberate on the '172 patent aware today or come back on Monday to resolve it. The jury opted to return on Monday at 9am, with instructions that it cannot award a value of $0 for damages and must come up with "at least a reasonable royalty" figure.

Another question yet to be resolved in the trial is that of willful infringement. The jury found that Samsung willfully copied Apple on the three patents, but found Apple not guilty of willful infringement on the lone Samsung patent. One of the patents the jury determined Samsung willfully stole is the '172 "auto correct" patent that will be discussed on Monday. How that affects the damages award the jury decides -- and whether Judge Koh will decide that the willfulness merits a trebling of Apple's final damages award -- remains to be seen.

Apple has now issued a statement on the verdict, saying it was "grateful" to the jury and court for their service. "Today's ruling reinforces what courts around the world have already found: That Samsung willfully stole our ideas and copied our products. We are fighting to defend the hard work that goes into beloved products like the iPhone, which our employees devote their lives to designing and delivering for our customers."

Samsung has yet to issue a statement. The biggest winner of the case may turn out to be Google: it had agreed to indemnify Samsung against legal expenses and damages over two of the patents at stake in the trial -- but the jury found that those were the only two Samsung hadn't infringed.

One possible interpretation of the mixed verdict is that neither company was able to convince a jury that most of the patents on trial here were actually worth fighting over. Jurors were told how much each of the many expert witnesses brought into the trial were paid (fees in the upper three digits per hour, for the most part, with overall grosses per expert in the hundreds of thousands) but did not appear to put much weight into their differing opinions. Samsung's tactic of deliberately devaluing software patents throughout the trial may have both saved them grievous Apple damages but also backfired on them; Samsung got pennies per infringing device on its one successful claim against Apple compared to Apple's several dollars per Samsung infringing device.

Electronista and MacNN will continue coverage of the ruling after further jury deliberation when it resumes on Monday at 9AM PST (12 noon EST).


Apple Versus Samsung II jury verdict



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. rosssanford

    Junior Member

    Joined: 02-22-00

    Do that math. Try $1,049,343,540

  1. azrich

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-19-10

    I wonder if it cost $120M just to pursue the case...

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    The patent laws in this country need some attention. This seems like a horrible waste of resources and money going after silly things like slide to lock and universal search.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    rossanford: Yes, that is the original amount the first jury awarded Apple in the first trial, but it was later reduced.

    azrich: Not quite, but let's say it wasn't a big moneymaker for them. But OTOH Apple says its not about the money at all, it's about finding a way to stop Samsung from stealing from them.

    besson3c: I would disagree that "slide to unlock" was or is "a silly thing." It was innovative and genuinely changed (along with myriad other inventions in the iPhone) the entire smartphone experience. It was the first thing the public really got to grips with on touchscreens that made them comfortable, and it solved a very common problem (butt-dialing) of the day. Samsung copied it, and Apple deserved to get paid for that. Punitively, they may get paid a lot more (I'm not holding my breath on that with this judge however) for that act.

  1. azrich

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-19-10

    I guess more money is coming Apple's way after Monday. It probably won't be a huge amount but some more anyway. Still, You gotta believe it isn't about the money.

  1. evansls

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-22-04

    We take everything for granted now that we've lived with such technology for years. Does your remote control on your TV support IR or RF? Mine does RF so I don't have to point at the TV. I remember when my remote controls were wired to my VCR. I remember when I was the remote control to my VCR for my parents. I remember when there was no VCR.

    Just watch this short video from 2007 when the iPhone premiered. People are gasping and clapping for slide to unlock, because on all previous phones before 2007 you would have to hold 2 buttons to unlock a phone or use a keyboard. Steve is demonstrating that all functionality is managed by a capacitive screen including something as simple as moving an image along a screen to confirm the unlock mechanism.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTp-4sXnXO4

  1. And.reg

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 02-22-04

    I'm not sure what's more laughable: that Apple has to pay a pitiful hundred grand, or that the jury with all of their $$ made an error on patent '172.

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    Originally Posted by chas_mView Post

    besson3c: I would disagree that "slide to unlock" was or is "a silly thing." It was innovative and genuinely changed (along with myriad other inventions in the iPhone) the entire smartphone experience. It was the first thing the public really got to grips with on touchscreens that made them comfortable, and it solved a very common problem (butt-dialing) of the day. Samsung copied it, and Apple deserved to get paid for that. Punitively, they may get paid a lot more (I'm not holding my breath on that with this judge however) for that act.



    It was an innovative thing, but how many alternative ways are there to unlock a phone now at this point (assuming Apple has also patented their fingerprint recognition thing)? If Google patents "rotating in a circle to unlock the phone" what does this leave any other competitor? Should patents be used to prevent competition, or protect intellectual property that a company put some significant amount of resources into establishing?

    Moreover, technology is better for all of us when there are conventions and concepts that can be leveraged. For instance, if you created a DVD/Bluray player with a play button icon that wasn't the triangle pointing to the right, this would confuse people. Should playback icons be patented?

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    besson3c: your argument is one of the tenets of the notion that software, per se, shouldn't be patentable. I don't yet have an opinion on that since I haven't studied the issue enough, but on the surface I kind of lean towards the idea IF specific code can be copyrighted (the case that Oracle is trying to make in pursuing Android). You still have to protect the work that someone did to make something that is so widely useful, but "plagerism" shouldn't be tolerated any more in real life than it is in school.

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    Originally Posted by chas_mView Post

    besson3c: your argument is one of the tenets of the notion that software, per se, shouldn't be patentable. I don't yet have an opinion on that since I haven't studied the issue enough, but on the surface I kind of lean towards the idea IF specific code can be copyrighted (the case that Oracle is trying to make in pursuing Android). You still have to protect the work that someone did to make something that is so widely useful, but "plagerism" shouldn't be tolerated any more in real life than it is in school.



    I don't have a problem with patents to software in many cases, I have a problem with patents to concepts, especially concepts that are a part of our pervasive understanding of a technology.

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