In deviating from our usual format of reviewing only family law cases, this week I thought it might be refreshing to review a case of interest to many consumers.
For those who may be living under a rock (and have no Internet connection), a while ago Apple sued Samsung in Federal District Court for $2.5 billion, claiming Samsung stole its iPhone and iPad designs. Samsung countersued Apple for $399 million for stealing its technology. The devices in question are 28 Samsung phones and tablets, and 5 Apple devices, including the iPhone. So what is the result?
In 2012, the initial decision came in, and a San Jose, California, Federal District Court jury decided:
1. Samsung infringed on a number of Apple’s patents
2. Samsung should have known that it was infringing
3. Samsung willfully infringed
4. Samsung did not prove that any of Apple’s asserted patents were invalid
Damages to Apple in the first Apple v. Samsung verdict? Samsung was initially ordered to pay Apple $1,051,855,000 (That’s right,1 billion, 51 million, 855 thousand dollars – that’s a lot of iPhones!). The damage award was shy of Apple’s request for more than $2.5 billion, but much larger than Samsung’s estimates and still among the largest intellectual-property awards on record. Among other things, the jury found that many of Apple’s patents were willfully infringed by Samsung.
However, the case was reversed on appeal and in a 2014 retrial Apple received only 10% of the initial damage award. So did Apple ultimately win the case? No, in fact after attorney fees and costs Apple probably was lucky to break even. Apple also filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s products, but this was denied. Ultimately the US Patent office may have invalidated the second jury decision by deciding Apple’s “Pinch-to-Zoom” patent to be invalid.
While the first decision didn’t affect either companies’ sale of products, it no doubt has had an affect on the way smartphones and tablets are designed and the fortune of companies that make them. Apple’s legal campaign was partly aimed at beating back the growth of Android, an operating system created by Google that is used by Samsung and other device makers, but Android continues on as always.
What the latest decision means to you?
Smart phone and tablet wars continue unabated – which company is winning? It doesn’t seem either has delivered a knock out blow, as both companies report strong sales. Ultimately a healthy market depends on competition, and the electronics companies continue swinging away while the consumer is the ultimate winner as competition means better products at lower prices.