Apple and Samsung back in court over patent damages


Apple and Samsung are returning to court in one of the most high-profile patent battles of recent times.

The two archrivals are in a California court today as a new jury is selected in a follow-up to Apple’s major patent-infringement legal victory of August 2012.

The case is not so much as to whether Samsung infringed on six technology patents by copying Apple’s iPhone and iPad, since this was already established during the trial. Rather, what is at stake now is $450 million — or nearly half of the original $1.05 billion award — that was “vacated” by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh due to mistakes by the first jury.

The trial will last 10 days, with the jury expected to issue its verdict around Nov. 22, at which point Samsung would have to pay a bond.

That $450m could be increased or lowered meaning that Apple could conceivably end up with more than the original $1bn awarded at the first trial.

Apple had originally sought $2.5bn in damages from Samsung.

It argued that the South Korean company had copied its designs for the bodies of the original iPhone and iPad as well as user-interface elements such as the bounce-back response when a person scrolls beyond the end of list and tap-to-zoom.

Samsung argued it was already working on rounded rectangular handsets dominated by a screen and a single button months before the iPhone was revealed. It sought $519m in damages from Apple.

Apple on its part applauded the court “for finding Samsung’s behaviour wilful and for sending a loud clear message that stealing isn’t right”.

Even after this latest trial, which will involve a new jury, both companies could appeal.

“I think they will appeal unless they settle,” intellectual property consultant Florian Mueller told the BBC.

Apple has asked for a sales ban to be imposed on the Samsung products that had been found to infringe the patents. But the judge ruled that Apple could adequately be compensated financially.

“Between these types of big players a $1bn damages award is not as bad as a sales ban,” said Mr Mueller.

Apple appealed against that ruling and the result of the appeal is due before the end of the year.

Samsung and Apple are currently locked in a battle in the courts of more than 10 countries across Europe.

Sharing good technology

In October, Samsung offered to stop taking rivals to court in Europe over alleged infringements of certain types of patents for a period of five years.

The European Union authorities have taken the “preliminary view” that the South Korean company’s litigious actions were stifling competition. Samsung faces a potential £11.3bn ($18.3bn) fine if found guilty of breaching European anti-trust laws.

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