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Samsung loses patent case retrial

May 26,2018
A U.S. court has ordered Samsung Electronics to pay $538.6 million in damages for infringing the design and utility patents of iPhones in early Galaxy models in a retrial of a case that dates back seven years.

The retrial jurors in the Northern District of California on Thursday awarded Apple $538.6 million in damages after five days of deliberations - $533.3 million for violating design patents and $5.3 million for violating utility (technical) patents.

The amount is $140 million more than the $399 million Samsung had agreed to pay - equivalent to all profits from the sale of the infringing smartphones - before it asked the Supreme Court to order a lower court to retry the case.

Samsung already paid $548 million in damages to Apple in December 2015 that included the $399 million.

In 2012, the Korean tech giant was found liable for infringing three of its U.S. archrival’s iPhone design patents - the rounded corners, the rim that surrounds the front face, and the grid of icons that users view - and two technical patents, which affect the way some features work. But the two companies have long disputed the amount of damages to be paid.

Samsung has not decided whether to appeal the retrial verdict, which would prolong the already lengthy legal battle.

“Today’s decision flies in the face of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in favor of Samsung on the scope of design patent damages,” Samsung said in a statement. “We will consider all options to obtain an outcome that does not hinder creativity and fair competition for all companies and consumers.”

Apple said in a statement it was pleased that the members of the jury “agree that Samsung should pay for copying our products.”

“This case has always been about more than money,” the iPhone maker said, adding, “we believe deeply in the value of design, and our teams work tirelessly to create innovative products that delight our customers.”

“Samsung is now going to consider its options,” wrote Florian Muller, an intellectual property analyst who writes a closely followed patent blog Foss Patents. “Those options are post-trial motions and, possibly, another appeal.”

The legal feud between the two biggest smartphone rivals began in April 2011 when Apple sued Samsung for violating its patents and copying the design of its iPhone, seeking $2.5 billion in damages.

Samsung was ordered to pay $1.05 billion in damages by jurors in 2012, which was reduced on appeal to $930 million. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit stripped another $382 million from that, saying the iPhone’s appearance could not be protected through trademarks, to $548 million in December 2015.

A year later, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a lower court on Samsung’s petition to reconsider the $399 million in damages on unanimous opinion that damages for design patent infringement can be based only on the part of the device that infringed the patent, not on the entire product.

Samsung argued then that it should only have to pay $28 million in damages for profits from the components of its Galaxy phones that copied Apple’s patents.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]