Apple Loses $382 Million in Damages vs Samsung as US Court of Appeals Reverses Part of Verdict
The US Court of Appeals for the circuit in Washington has overturned a part of the 2012 ruling against Samsung, lowering the amount of damages to be awarded to Apple by $382 million. This may seem to be a partial success for Samsung who has appealed the decision to the higher court after a federal jury of California convicted them of stealing some of Apple’s technology as well as design features. The original cost of damages was valued at $1 billion although this was subsequently lowered to $930 million.
The Verdict in San Jose, California
Back in 2012, Apple sued Korean smartphone maker, Samsung, of stealing some of its software and design features. These included Apple’s finger gesture technology which was available on iPhone and iPad, the bounce-back scrolling feature, and the physical design of iPhone and iPad. To these charges, the nine-person jury all favored that Samsung was indeed guilty of patent infringements and arrived at a whopping $1 billion award for Apple. In 2013, however, a retrial was conducted and the award was lowered to $930 million by Judge Lucy Koh basing on the principle that the cost of the award was based on a “legally impermissible theory.”
During this time, Apple had also requested that the Samsung products involved in the patent infringement case be pulled out from the market although this was rejected by the court. Samsung had also tried to file a countersuit against Apple, but their demands had not been granted as well.
Court of Appeals Reverses Part of Ruling
Although the court of appeals still upheld some of the verdict, they did reverse some of the damages to be awarded asking the San Jose court to “reconsider” the $382 million amount of damages which was for the “trade dress dilution” of Apple’s designs. “Trade dress” refers to the external packaging and appearance of a product and Apple’s contention was that Samsung copied iPhone and iPad’s design. According to Apple, Samsung was “diluting” Apple’s uniqueness in the market by producing devices bearing a similar design.
The court of appeals however, did not agree with Apple on this point. According to the recent ruling, the “rectangular, round-cornered, flat-screen, and touch-screen” design of the said devices cannot be protected by a patent since they are essential aspects related to the functions of the phone. Giving patent rights over the said design would be impractical since they would then be the only ones producing smartphones with the said design.
Overall, Apple’s award will now only be around $540 million compared to the original $1 billion which was granted by the San Jose jury. With the Court of Appeals ordering the lower court to “reconsider” the amount, the decision may turn into a much lower cost or it can be totally deducted from the total damages altogether. Either way, this can be considered as a partial victory for Samsung which is one of the major competitors in the smartphone market today.