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After a year of scorched-earth process of legal action, a nine-person United States jury in San Jose, California last week found that Apple’s biggest rival Samsung has infringed six of the seven patents for Apple mobile devices — the big issue of the trial. The jurors also confirmed the validity of all seven of Apple’s innovative patents, many of which covered the design of the iPhone. The United States jury ordered the South Korean company to pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages, less than half of the amount Apple attempted to obtain. Apple had sought nearly $2.75 billion in damages, claiming Samsung had illegally copied four design and three software patents.
Apple Inc. filed its patent infringement lawsuit in April 2011, occupying a vast number of the United States’ highest-paid attorneys to demand $2.75 billion from its giant smartphone rival. Samsung Electronics Co. fired back with its own lawsuit claiming that the Californian company infringed five of its own patents and demanded $399 million. Samsung’s lawyers supported that Apple was trying to prevent Samsung from accomplishing legitimate competition. However, the verdict favored Apple since the jury rejected all of Samsung’s claims against the Californian company.
The jurors needed less than three days to deliver the verdict, causing some surprise, considering the complexities of the case. The nine-person jury was asked more than 600 questions during their deliberation. The jury decided that Samsung had illegally used Apple’s tech innovations in some of its own products, such as the ‘bounce-back’ feature when a user scrolls to an end picture and the ability to zoom texts with tapping a finger.
Harold McElhinny, Apple’s lawyer, claimed that after iPhone’s launch in 2007, the South Korean company was facing a design crisis and thus company’s executives decided to illegally take advantage of the revolutionary device’s success. Besides the billions Apple sought for damages, the company’s attorneys also demanded that Samsung pull its most popular mobile devices and computer tablets from the United States market.
Of course Samsung’s lawyers argued that the company had not done anything illegal. The South Korean tech giant was only giving customers what they wanted: smart phones with big screens. They claimed that Samsung’s manufacturers did not infringe on Apple’s software and design patents, though, according to them, many of Apple’s revolutionary patents were actually concepts or ideas stolen from Sony Corp. and other companies. According to Samsung’s lawyers, Apple’s products may be great but that does not mean the company has a monopoly on the design of phones with rounded corners.
Apple’s legal victory in California did not give the company’s legal team many reasons to celebrate, because the effect of the verdict on the other legal battles between the two companies outside of the United States still remain unclear. The U.S trial was only the first part of this historic patent battle, as both companies have pursued legal actions in eight other countries including South Korea, Japan, Australia, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands.
Last Friday, Samsung won a motherland court ruling. According to Judges in Seoul, Samsung did not infringed the design patents for iPhone, but they said that the Korean company did violate the patent on the ‘bounce-back’ feature. Judges also decided that Apple infringed on Samsung’s wireless technology and both companies were ordered to pay damages.
Yesterday, a United States Judge set a court date for December 6 in order to hear Apple’s request for a permanent ban against Samsung’s mobile devices. Apple claimed to have eight devices it will demand for a permanent sales ban on.
While Apple and Samsung have both pursued legal actions against each other’s manufacturers, experts say this is not a battle between Apple and Samsung. The real target is Google. The truth is Apple and Samsung are using courts in order to help them negotiate and set prices for cross-licensing agreements.
The two tech rivals are trying to figure out whose intellectual property is worth what. Samsung has emerged as one of Apple’s greatest competitors, becoming the leading smartphone-making company thanks to Google. It was Google that gave Samsung and other phone makers the Android mobile operating system for free. In the end it is going to be a battle between the two operating systems.