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Good News, Bad News for Apple in Samsung Patent Case

Issued: August 01 2012

Apple received good news and bad news in its ongoing patent litigation against Samsung, with a win in the US and a draw in South Korea. The California win could give Apple a competitive boost in its US stores, including this one on New York’s Fifth

Hours before Apple received some good news from a nine-person jury in the US – which awarded it more than US$1 billion in damages in its sweeping, global patent infringement case against Samsung – a South Korean court had more sobering news for the iconic computer and smart phone manufacturer.

The Seoul Central District Court ruled that Samsung had not copied the look and feel of the iPhone and that while Samsung had infringed on one of Apple’s patents, Apple had violated two Samsung patents. The ruling requires both companies to stop selling some of their products in South Korea, though the court stopped short of banning either company’s newest phones — Apple’s iPhone 4S or Samsung’s Galaxy S III — or the newest iPad.

“There are lots of external design similarities between the iPhone and Galaxy S, such as rounded corners and large screens... but these similarities had been documented in previous products,” a judge at the Seoul Central District Court was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

“Given that it’s very limited to make big design changes in touchscreen based mobile products in general... and the defendant [Samsung] differentiated its products with three buttons in the front and adopted different designs in camera and [on the] side, the two products have a different look,” the judge said. Apple was ordered to pay W40 million(US$35,000) in damages to Samsung; Samsung was ordered to pay W25 million in damages to Apple.

The awards are minuscule compared to the damages Apple requested in its California suit, where it sought more than US$2.5 billion from Samsung. A jury in Silicon Valley gave Apple less than half of that, US$1.05 billion, while finding that Samsung had violated patents when it copied design elements from the iPhone, including the phone’s rounded rectangle shape and the way screens slide and bounce to touch. The same jury found that Apple had not infringed on any Samsung patent.

The jury found that Samsung had infringed six of the seven patents raised by Apple in the suit, saying that the infringement was willful on five of the patents. Apple has also requested injunctions against the sales of products found to infringe on its patents. A hearing on the injunctions has been scheduled for September 20.

Katie Cotton, an Apple spokesperson, said the company appreciated the jury’s verdict. “The mountain of evidence presented during the trial showed that Samsung’s copying went far deeper than even we knew,” she said. “The lawsuits between Apple and Samsung were about much more than patents or money. They were about values. At Apple, we value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy. We applaud the court for finding Samsung’s behavior willful and for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn’t right.”

A Samsung statement called the US verdict as a loss for the American consumer. “It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices,” the company said. “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.” 



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