Friday, August 24, 2012

Apple wins big over Samsung in U.S. patent trial

We've seen - and expect - live blogs of Apple launch events, but a live blog of a verdict being read? Only when it involves Apple would that happen.

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On Friday, a nine-member jury came back with a verdict in the Apple / Samsung patent trial. The deliberations were surprisingly short, considering the amount of technical information presented, as well as the length of the trial: three weeks.

It was also a surprisingly short deliberation considering that U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh gave the jury 100 pages of instructions on Tuesday, along with a jury worksheet including 20 pages of questions to be answered. In addition, the panel was provided with dozens of mobile phones to examine.

The verdict: predominantly, Apple won. As the verdicts were read, Samsung, the world's biggest selling mobile phone makers was, as one observer said, getting "killed" in the courtroom.

There were a number of devices and patents involved in the case. Among the Samsung devices involved in the case were the Fascinate (Galaxy S, AT&T), Galaxy S 4G, Showcase, Mesmerize, Vibrant (Galaxy S, T-Mobile), Continuum, Droid Charge, Epic 4G, Prevail, Galaxy S II AT&T, Galaxy S II i9100 (the GSM unlocked version), Galaxy S II T-Mobile, Epic 4G Touch (Galaxy S II Sprint), Galaxy S II Skyrocket (an LTE version of the GS2), Replenish, Intercept, Nexus S 4G, and the Infuse 4G.

Among the Apple devices involved in the case were the iPhone 3G and 3GS.

In summary, Apple won big:
  • The jury found Samsung guilty of infringement of Apple utility and design patents for some (though not all) of the products above
  • The Jury upheld Apple utility and design patents
  • Jury upholds Apple trade dress '983. Trade dress is a legal term of art that generally refers to characteristics of the visual appearance of a product or its packaging. In other words, this refers to Apple's argument that Samsung devices were too similar in appearance to Apple's.
  • The jury found that Samsung "diluted" Apple's registered iPhone, iPhone 3 and "Combination iPhone" trade dress on some, but not all, of the above products
  • The jury found that Samsung violated antitrust law by monopolizing markets related to the UMTS standard
  • Samsung struck out on its own patents, there was no Apple infringement of Samsung utility patents

Damages owed by Samsung: $1.05 billion (Apple had been seeking $2.5 billion)
Damages owed by Apple to Samsung: $0

The ramifications of the verdicts are still to be fully accounted for, as will be the effect of the  verdicts on Android devices, globally.

Apple has pursued lawsuits against Samsung across the globe, despite the fact that Samsung is one of Apple's key suppliers.  Samsung has countered with its own lawsuits.  These legal battles can be seen as part of Steve Jobs' famously quoted "thermonuclear war" against Android, which he said was a "stolen product."

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