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The smartphone war continues as Apple and Samsung return to court

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Last year saw the conclusion of one of the most high profile patent battles of recent times, as Apple claimed victory in one of several ongoing IP disputes that are presently being fought out between these two smartphone heavyweights in courtrooms across the globe. 

On this occasion, Samsung were found to be guilty of infringing six Apple patents and ordered to pay Apple over $1 billion in damages, one of the largest payouts of this kind on record.

However, in March 2013, Judge Lucy Koh re-assessed the $1 billion awarded to Apple and found that the previous jury had made errors in its calculations; impacting on approximately $400 million of the $1 billion awarded.  Accordingly, Judge Koh ordered a retrial of this particular portion of the original award.

The retrial began on Wednesday 14 November, when Apple once again squared off against its old foe Samsung.  Unsurprisingly, the two parties remain poles apart in terms of what they deem to be the appropriate sum to be awarded. Apple’s attorney told the jurors in the California federal court that Samsung should be ordered to pay $379.8 million for violating five patents on the iPhone.  In contrast, Samsung’s attorney claimed that the appropriate sum is just $52.7 million.

In order to substantiate these figures, Apple’s attorney informed the court that Samsung had sold roughly 10.7 million phones which infringe Apple's patents, generating $3.5 billion in revenue.  Samsung’s attorney rebutted such assertions, arguing instead that $52.7 million is not a trivial amount for Samsung to pay.  Furthermore, whilst it is not denied that Samsung infringed some Apple patents, those ideas were not new and therefore Apple should not be rewarded with a windfall damages award based on the 13 Samsung products at issue during trial.

Apple had initially sought a sales ban on those products of Samsung’s which infringe their patents, in addition to $2.5bn in damages.  However, Judge Lucy Koh ruled that Apple could adequately be compensated financially.  Apple appealed against this ruling.  On 18 November 2013, the US Court of Appeals upheld Judge Koh’s decision in respect of the three Apple design patents; concluding that these infringements did not merit an injunction.  However, the appeals court stated that the lower court had abused its discretion in denying the injunction with regard to the three utility patents.

This ruling does not mean that Apple will get an injunction anytime soon, as some of the infringing Samsung devices are no longer on sale, it does, however, give Apple further ammunition to use in its other patent challenges against Samsung.

The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues. 

If you require further information please contact Christopher Ahearne on 01245 228113 or email ahearnec@gepp.co.uk