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Apple, Samsung Patent Battle Ends, For Now

Apple, Samsung Patent Battle Ends, For Now
By: Larry Darrell
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The ongoing patent case between Samsung Electronics Ltd. (SSNLF) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) seems to have come to an end, with the eight-person jury announcing that Samsung has infringed on two of Apple’s four patents in question. The jury also found Apple guilty of illegally using of Samsung’s patents in building its iPhone 4 and 5.

This panel concluded that Apple should pay $158,400 in damages to Samsung, much lower than Samsung’s demand of $6 million. Samsung, on the other hand, will be required to pay the maker of the iPhone about $119.6 million in damages, which is about 5.4% of the $2 billion that Apple had demanded. Apple's lawyers have pointed to potential errors in calculating damages, and the jurors have been asked to return to court on Monday to continue to discuss the issue, which could result in a higher award.

Apple accused Samsung of violating five of its software patents, which included the slide-to-unlock feature, automatic spelling correction or word suggestion facility, universal search patent, background data syncing, and the option to dial a phone number from email or a webpage instead of a dial pad. US District Judge Lucy Koh had previously ruled that Samsung had infringed upon the automatic spelling correction or word suggestion patent, which left the jury to rule whether Samsung violated the other four patents in question.

Samsung had argued that four of the five features (with the exception of the slide-to-unlock features) were actually licensed from Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Android OS, bringing the search engine giant into the court room. Apple demanded that the Korean Smart phone maker pay up $40 for each phone sold in the US that infringed upon Apple’s patents.

The jury ruled on May 2, 2014 that the Korean smartphone maker had infringed upon Apple’s slide-to-unlock and quick-linking patents. The jury decided that all of the Samsung devices infringed on the quick-link patent, while the slide-to-unlock patent was found to have been infringed upon by some of Samsung’s devices. Samsung was asked to pay $99 million for violating Apple’s quick-link patent. Furthermore, about $52 million of the total damages are attributable to violations in the manufacturing of Samsung Galaxy S3 phone.

Apple was found guilty of infringing Samsung's patent as regards organizing digital photos, and as a result, will pay damages of $158,400.

Apple, which continues to criticize Samsung for copying iPhone’s features, has gone on the record saying that the Korean phone maker would not have been able to compete if had it not imitated features specific to the iPhone.

Google's operating system, which is now used in over 70% of all smartphones sold, has been at the heart of growth in the smartphone industry, thereby posing a significant threat to Apple and the iOS. Apple’s previous CEO, the late Steve Jobs, had realized the threat as far back as 2010, when he had declared ‘Holy War’ against Google in one of Apple's 'Top 100' meetings.

On the surface, Apple appears to have won the patent battle; however, the puny $119.6 million was not what it was seeking, and it looks like the recent ruling has helped Samsung land a severe blow to Apple.

The maker of the iPhone is pushing for a ban on Samsung's devices; however, it is highly unlikely that the request will be granted. The company has already made two attempts to get US courts to ban the sales of Samsung products in the US at least two times but to no avail. A ban, even if granted, will not significantly impact Samsung as it does not sell most of the devices found guilty of infringing on Apple’s patents in the US market.

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