Following the month-long, high-profile Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., LTD. patent case in San Jose, Calif., a federal jury recently came to a decision. The verdict was a “symbolic win” for Samsung and in great contrast to the resounding $930-million decision in Apple’s favor two years ago.
The jury of eight found that while some of Samsung’s smartphones and tablets infringed on some of Apple’s patents, Apple, too, fringed on one of Samsung’s. Apple was initially seeking $2.2 billion in damages but was only awarded $119.6 million — a drop in Samsung’s $41-billion company bucket. The reduced award is probably close to covering the cost of Apple’s legal fees in this patent battle, minus the $158,400 it must pay Samsung for its own infringement.
Just like following the eye-popping award two years ago, this decision has been appealed by Samsung, who would like to bring down the already-reduced damages amount even further. It’s likely that these two tech giants will continue to wage legal war, though barely causing smartphone consumers to glance up from their screens. Had Apple’s requested permanent injunction against Samsung two years ago been approved by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, then consumers would have felt the impact. It’s near certain that the same requested injunction in this case will not be approved, either. And so the battle continues. Meanwhile, Samsung continues to hold its dominant position over Apple in the smartphone market.
Samsung claims 31 percent of the $330 billion phone market worldwide compared to Apple’s 15.6 percent. According to the L.A. Times, Samsung’s attorneys have called Apple’s “greed” as being behind its quest for such significant damages and a “desire to use the courts to reverse the market share Apple was losing to Samsung products that run on Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system.” The same report quoted Samsung attorney Peter Quinn’s opening statement.
“What this case is really about is Apple trying to limit consumer choice and to limit the advantage of its main competitor, Google’s Android. It’s trying to gain from you in this courtroom what it’s lost in the marketplace.”
The reference to Google raises an interesting point about its role. According to a thorough breakdown of the case, Samsung stated during trial that most of the features Apple claimed were infringed were actually part of part of Android, the mobile operating system by Google that is present in Samsung devices. Meanwhile, Apple argued that the patent fight was with Samsung, not Android. The trial did reveal, however, that Google was supporting Samsung’s defense of two patents. The jury concluded that Apple and Google need to square off rather than involve Samsung.
Whether Apple and Samsung continue to battle or Apple decides to take on Google remains to be seen. Another reason to hold the phone: The Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank and its affect on future litigation of software patents.