Apple wins U.S. patent battle against Samsung
After a year of scorched-earth litigation, a jury decided Friday that Samsung ripped off the innovative technology used by Apple to create its revolutionary iPhone and iPad.
The jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion. An appeal is expected.
Apple Inc. filed its patent infringement lawsuit in April 2011 and engaged legions of the country's highest-paid patent lawyers to demand $2.5 billion from its top smartphone competitor. Samsung Electronics Co. fired back with its own lawsuit seeking $399 million.
The verdict, however, belonged to Apple, as the jury rejected all Samsung's claims against Apple. Jurors also decided against some of Apple's claims involving the two dozen Samsung devices at issue, declining to award the full $2.5 billion Apple demanded.
However, the jury found that several Samsung products illegally used such Apple creations as the "bounce-back" feature when a user scrolls to an end image, and the ability to zoom text with a tap of a finger.
As part of its lawsuit, Apple also demanded that Samsung pull its most popular cellphones and computer tablets from the U.S. market. A judge was expected to make that ruling at a later time.
After the verdicts were read, the judge sent the jury back to deliberate further on two inconsistencies involving about $2.5 million in damages awarded to Apple based on products jurors found didn't infringe Apple's patents. Those deliberations were continuing.
'Crisis of design'
During closing arguments at the trial, Apple attorney Harold McElhinny claimed Samsung was having a "crisis of design" after the 2007 launch of the iPhone, and executives with the South Korean company were determined to illegally cash in on the success of the revolutionary device.
Samsung's lawyers countered that it was simply and legally giving consumers what they want: Smart phones with big screens. They said Samsung didn't violate any of Apple's patents and further alleged innovations claimed by Apple were actually created by other companies.
'Today's verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices.'—Samsung statement
Samsung responded to the verdict in a statement issued from its Seoul headquarters, saying it was "unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly."
"Today's verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices," Samsung said.
Samsung has emerged as one of Apple's biggest rivals and has overtaken Apple as the leading smartphone maker. Samsung's Galaxy line of phones run on Android, a mobile operating system that Google Inc. has given out for free to Samsung and other phone makers.
Samsung conceded that Apple makes great products but said it doesn't have a monopoly on the design of rectangle phones with rounded corners that it claimed it created.
'Thermonuclear war' on Android
Google entered the smartphone market while its then-CEO Eric Schmidt was on Apple's board, infuriating Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who considered Android to be a blatant rip off of the iPhone's innovations.
After shoving Schmidt off Apple's board, Jobs vowed that Apple would resort to "thermonuclear war" to destroy Android and its allies.
The trial came after each side filed a blizzard of legal motions and refused advisories by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to settle the dispute out of court. Deliberations by the jury of seven men and two women began Wednesday.
Apple and Samsung combined account for more than half of global smartphone sales. Samsung has sold 22.7 million smartphones and tablets that Apple claimed uses its technology. McElhinny said those devices accounted for $8.16 billion in sales since June 2010.
Identical look and feel
From the beginning, legal experts and Wall Street analysts viewed Samsung as the underdog in the case. Apple's headquarters is a mere 16 kilometres from the San Jose courthouse, and jurors were picked from the heart of Silicon Valley where Jobs is a revered technological pioneer.
While the legal and technological issues were complex, patent expert Alexander I. Poltorak previously said the case would likely boil down to whether jurors believed Samsung's products look and feel almost identical to Apple's iPhone and iPad.
To overcome that challenge at trial, Samsung's lawyers argued that many of Apple's claims of innovation were either obvious concepts or ideas stolen from Sony Corp. and others. Experts called that line of argument a high-risk strategy because of Apple's reputation as an innovator.
Apple's lawyers argued there is almost no difference between Samsung products and those of Apple, and presented internal Samsung documents they said showed it copied Apple designs. Samsung lawyers insisted that several other companies and inventors had previously developed much of the Apple technology at issue.
Global patent war
The U.S. trial is just the latest skirmish between the two tech giants over product designs. Apple and Samsung have filed similar lawsuits in eight other countries, including South Korea, Germany, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Britain, France and Australia.
Samsung won a home court ruling earlier Friday in the global patent battle against Apple. Judges in Seoul said Samsung didn't copy the look and feel of the iPhone and ruled that Apple infringed on Samsung's wireless technology.
However, the judges also said Samsung violated Apple's technology behind the feature that causes a screen to bounce back when a user scrolls to an end image. Both sides were ordered to pay limited damages.
The Seoul ruling was a rare victory for Samsung in its arguments that Apple has infringed on its wireless technology patents. Samsung's claims have previously been shot down by courts in Europe, where judges have ruled that Samsung patents were part of industry standards that must be licensed under fair terms to competitors.
The U.S. case is one of some 50 lawsuits among myriad telecommunications companies jockeying for position in the burgeoning $219 billion market for computer tablets and smartphones.