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Court smacks Samsung with $1bn Apple payout
South Korean electronics giant to appeal Silicon Valley jury ruling it infringed on patents for rival's iPhone and iPad.
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2012 00:09
Apple and Samsung lead the $219bn market for smartphones and computer tablets [Reuters]

A US jury has ruled for electronics giant Apple in its huge smartphone patent infringement case involving South Korean competitor Samsung.

Samsung has vowed to appeal the verdict all the way to the US Supreme Court if need be, arguing that Apple's patents for such "obvious'' things as rounded rectanglar shapes were wrongly granted. A September 20 hearing is scheduled.

After a year of fierce litigation, a jury decided on Friday that Samsung copied the innovative technology used by Apple to create its iPhone and iPad devices.

Samsung has been ordered to pay $1.051bn to Apple in damages, according to the verdict reached by the jury in San Jose, California.

In its legal case filed last year, Apple Inc had demanded $2.5bn while accusing Samsung of copying the design technology of iPhones and iPads. Samsung had also filed counterclaims, accusing Apple of infringing on some of its wireless patents.

During closing arguments at the trial, Samsung attorney Charles Verhoeven called Apple's demand ridiculous and asked the jury to award Samsung $399 million in connection with the countersuits.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Alfred Siew, a Singapore-based technology reporter, said that the patents the iOS-maker has accused Samsung of deliberately copying were too general.

These are "really generic patents - the shape of a phone, the design to unlock a screen - these are really generic types of patents that could very easily be infringed by many companies", Siew said.

The two companies lead the $219bn market for smartphones and computer tablets. They are enmeshed in similar legal cases in the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.

In a statement released after the verdict was read, Samsung called the decision "a loss for the American consumer" because it would stifle innovation and push up prices.

"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," the statement said.

Referring to the nature of Apple's claims, Siew told Al Jazeera that it was indeed true that "consumers now probably have even less of a choice than before" as both firms accounted for nearly half of all mobile phone sales in the world.

Ban possible

The verdict could lead to an outright ban on sales of key Samsung products, and may solidify Apple's dominance of the smartphone and mobile computing market.

Apple said after the verdict that it would be filing a sales injunction against Samsung within the next seven days.

However, referring to a case in which Apple lost a similar case against fellow Android phone-maker HTC, Siew said "this ruling is quite unique to the US", and that Samsung was still free to sell its products in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.

A number of companies such as Samsung that sell smartphones based on Google's Android operating system may now face further legal challenges from Apple, a company that is already among the largest and most profitable in business history.

The jury deliberated for less than three days before delivering the verdict on seven Apple patent claims and five Samsung patent claims.

Shares in Apple, which just this week became the biggest company by market value in history, climbed almost two per cent to a record high of $675 in after-hours trade.

Brian Love, a Santa Clara law school professor, described it as a crushing victory for Apple: "This is the best-case scenario Apple could have hoped for."

He said that Judge Lucy Koh, who presided over the case, could potentially triple Apple's damages award, since the jury found that Samsung had "willfully" infringed on five of seven patents. 

Supply relationship

Apple's position was that Samsung had willfully copied its products when designing its own range of tablets and Android-powered smartphones. Samsung's lawyers argued that Apple did not have patent rights over rectangular devices with large screens and rounded corners.

Earlier on Friday, a South Korean court found that both companies shared blame, ordering Samsung to stop selling 10
products including its Galaxy S II phone and banning Apple from selling four different products, including its iPhone 4.
But the trial on Apple's home turf - the world's largest and most influential technology market - is considered the most
important.

The companies are rivals, but also have a $5 billion-plus supply relationship. Apple is Samsung's biggest customer for microprocessors and other parts central to Apple's devices.

Earlier this year, sales of Samsung's smartphones outstripped Apple's for the first time. Together, the two companies account for more than half of all global smartphone sales.

750

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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