Apple awarded $1 billion in Samsung patent case

LARGER IMPACT: The verdict could affect Google’s Android operating system

Written by New York Times | New York | Published: August 26, 2012 1:22 am

Apple won a decisive victory on Friday in a lawsuit against Samsung,a verdict that will give Apple ammunition in a far-flung patent war with its global competitors in the smartphone business.

The nine jurors in the case,who faced the daunting task of answering more than 700 questions on sometimes highly technical matters,returned a verdict after just three days of deliberations at a federal courthouse in San Jose,California.

They found that Samsung infringed on a series of Apple’s patents on mobile devices,awarding Apple more than $1 billion in damages.

That is not a big financial blow to Samsung,one of the world’s largest electronics companies. But the decision could essentially force it and other smartphone makers to redesign their products to be less Apple-like,or risk further legal defeats.

Consumers could end up with some welcome diversity in phone and tablet design — or they may be stuck with devices that manufacturers have clumsily revamped to avoid crossing Apple.

Samsung said it would ask the court to overturn the verdict and,if that is unsuccessful,appeal to a higher court.

The jury found that various Samsung products violated Apple patents covering things like the “bounce back” effect when a user scrolls to the end of a list on the iPhone and iPad,and the pinch-to-zoom gesture that users make when they want to magnify an image. Samsung was also found to have infringed Apple patents covering the physical design of the iPhone.

In its decision on a countersuit by Samsung,the jury added some sting by finding in favor of Apple across the board. Samsung had asked for more than $422 million from Apple,contending it had violated Samsung’s patents,but got nothing.

Because Samsung was found to have willfully infringed Apple patents,the judge in the case could grant an Apple request to triple the damages Samsung is required to pay,though lawyers said the size of the initial award made this less likely.

Despite the eye-popping award,one of the largest ever in a patent case,the more important effect of the jury’s decision could be the impact it has on Android,the Google operating system used by Samsung and a broad array of other companies in their devices.

For every iPhone sold worldwide,more than three smartphones running Android are sold,reflecting the meteoric rise of Google’s software.

Apple’s suit against Samsung,the world’s largest maker of smartphones,has partly been viewed as a proxy war against Google,which Apple executives have derided as a copycat,swiping Apple’s innovations. Steven P Jobs,the late chief executive of Apple,told his biographer that Android was a “stolen product”.

Apple is expected to ask for an injunction preventing Samsung from shipping products that infringe on Apple’s patents. The verdict could also bolster Apple’s legal attacks on Android devices from other companies.

The trial provided a rare window into the inner workings of the two companies,especially the highly secretive Apple,forcing them to divulge sales figures,business negotiations and internal memos.

The evidence Apple presented,including internal Samsung memos and strategy documents,left little doubt that the iPhone inspired a major effort by the Korean manufacturer to overhaul its mobile phones.

In a statement,Katie Cotton,an Apple spokeswoman,applauded the court for sending a “clear message that stealing isn’t right.”

Samsung said in a statement that the decision was a “loss for the American consumer”.

“It will lead to fewer choices,less innovation,and potentially higher prices,” the company said.

“This is not the final word in this case or in battles being waged in courts and tribunals around the world,some of which have already rejected many of Apple’s claims.”

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