Huge Samsung defeat – what caused Apple’s $1 billion win in U.S. patent case [full verdict]

August 25, 2012

You probably know by now that Samsung has just gotten its ass kicked by Apple in court in San Jose, California, in one of the most important patent legal conflicts of our times, and in one of the most important patent fights between the two, with Apple in a war that spans across four continents, with more than 50 cases filed in 10 countries so far.

The unexpectedly fast verdict was filed on late-Friday, and it heavily contradicts the findings of a South Korean court in a similar case. That court said that both sides infringe on the other’s patents and awarded damages in the thousands for each party.

But the jury in this first U.S. trial awarded a complete and unquestionable win to Apple. Samsung lost on all counts, except in the tablet patent battle, but that victory doesn’t count that much and I’ll tell you later why.

We have thoroughly covered the U.S. Apple vs Samsung case for the better part of the month – from opening to closing statements – and we looked at all the evidence each side pitted against the other. I said more than once that the evidence presented in court does not look good for Samsung, and that the Android maker will have a very tough job proving that it didn’t infringe on the patents claims part of the trial.

And apparently the jury thought so too.

The Verdict

As you may already know, the jury had to look at all the evidence, examine all the devices, and fill in a 20-page lawyered form (a joint result of Apple’s and Samsung’s proposed jury forms) comprised of over 700 per-patent per-device questions grouped in 33 main questions dealing with patent infringement, trade dress, antitrust and damages. On top of that, the jury had to take into account an over 100-page jury instruction form provided by the court to help with issuing a verdict.

So how did Samsung manage to obtain such an adverse verdict? Simply put, its lawyers were not able to demonstrate that the Samsung products Apple alleged were infringing on various patents were, in fact, not infringing those patents. Samsung was not able to invalidate any of Apple’s patents. Samsung was not able to prove that its design choices were largely related to device functionality, therefore its devices were not infringing. Samsung was not able to prove it did not copy the iPhone, although it was successful in proving it didn’t copy the iPad. Samsung was not able to prove that any patent infringements, if found, were not willful.

Moreover, Samsung was not able to demonstrate that Apple infringed on its own patents – in fact, the jury did not award any damages to Samsung for its own patent claims. There is some good news here for Samsung, that it did not violate antitrust laws with its FRAND patents used against Apple in the trial, which means it doesn’t have to pay anything to the iPhone maker on top of the $1 billion in damages already awarded by the jury. At the end of this post you’ll find the full verdict form as submitted, and amended by the jury. But we’re going to talk about the juicy parts in what follows.

iPhone design – trade dress and software patents

Nearly every Samsung smartphone part of the trial – and specifically the Galaxy S and Galaxy S2 former flagship devices that helped the company become what it is today in the smartphone business – have been found to infringe on Apple’s software patents that describe such “minor” details as the “bounce-back” feature, multi-touch or “tap-to-zoom.”

In addition to software patents, who ultimately can be worked around if Samsung and/or Google so desire – and chances are the companies will have to do so in order to keep such functions available on handsets and tablets without infringing any patents – Samsung’s devices were also found to be infringing the patented iPhone design.

According to the jury, various Galaxy-branded devices diluted the iPhone’s trade dress, in general, and specifically the registered iPhone 3G trade dress. In plainer words, Samsung copied the iPhone with various design variations and now it will have to suffer the consequences, and we’re talking about damages and potential sales ban as Apple is going to go forward with its actions against the Android maker. Sure, appeals will follow, but that doesn’t mean Apple’s win can be simply erased, and a complete overturn of the verdict is largely unexpected. Reuters notes:

“The impact on Samsung will be quite limited, as affected models are mostly legacy products and its new products did make some design changes to avoid potential litigation,” said D.J. Jung, representative patent attorney for SU Intellectual Property.

“Still … it’s a sweeping loss in the most important market. It’s inevitable that Samsung’s brand will be negatively affected – Samsung could be perceived as a copycat.”

iPad design

The good news for Samsung is that its Galaxy Tab 10.1 did not infringe the iPad design patent, therefore Samsung did not copy the iPad with its products. While the verdict is favorable to Samsung, it still doesn’t mean much for the tablet market, one that is not only undisputedly dominated by the iPad, but also one that is getting harder and harder for Samsung to compete in as important players such as Google and Amazon (with Apple joining soon) releasing affordable 7-inch devices that cannibalize “regular” Android sales.

Moreover, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was also found to be infringing on software patents, so the device is not exactly safe against further Apple action. The iPhone maker is certain to appeal on this ruling, as the iPad is one of its major products and it would definitely love to score a victory in this department against Android as well.

Willfulness

The jury found that Samsung has willfully infringed on Apple’s patents, which is another major defeat for Samsung. On those grounds alone, Judge Lucy Koh could triple the damages amount due to Apple. Of course, we’re yet to see such developments yet, as the jury has just filed in the verdict, which means both companies are now devising post-trial strategies, including future appeals and motions.

Samsung patents

What’s disturbing for Samsung is that it was awarded $0 in damages. In other words, Apple proved that its iOS product do not infringe on Samsung patents, patents that were deemed valid by the jury. Therefore ,Samsung does not have a bargaining chip that could have been used in future settlement talks – let’s remember that there are plenty of outstanding Apple vs Samsung conflicts in the world, with one other U.S. trial between set to start soon.

What’s next?

Various pundits, tech publications and legal entities are speculating on what each party will do, and everyone agrees that appeals are in order, and further legal actions from both parties will follow.

Samsung

Samsung will most likely try to have Judge Koh overrule the findings of the jury, or at least lower the damages. The company will go forward with appeals either way, although its not clear from Samsung’s recent statements what the next steps are. Android Police notes:

Suffice to say, Samsung’s appeals docket will probably be pretty long. How much good will it do? Just know that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has a little over 10% rate of overturning district court decisions. Better than some circuits, but it doesn’t take a genius to see those aren’t good odds. Considering the parties haven’t settled by now (and Samsung won on zero counts), it’s unlikely Apple will be interested in compromising in exchange for Samsung foregoing an appeal. At this point, they’re in it to hurt Samsung, as they’ve made clear.

But CNET says that:

While the victory is important for Apple, it shouldn’t count its money just yet. The company still faces a federal circuit that reverses at least something in about half the cases it reviews. In addition, large patent verdicts have been frequently reversed or lowered. “It feels like its over but it’s got a long way to go yet,” notes Brian Love, law professor at Santa Clara University.

Apple

Apple asked for $2.5 billion initially, although admitted it prefers product bans rather than monetary compensation. The company could still try to convince Judge Koh to triple the damages, and it’s more than likely to try to obtain temporary and permanent injunctions against the Galaxy-branded devices found infringing on Apple patents that are still selling on American soil. We’ll find out more details about Apple’s own legal plans in the weeks and months to follow, as Apple has already filed paperwork to proceed with an injunction against Samsung products.

A September 20 hearing on the matter has been scheduled by Judge Koh.

Android

Finally, this is a huge defeat for Google. While the company is not involved directly in the Apple vs Samsung trial, it’s Android OS took a beating in court, and therefore the partial outcome of this legal fight – and we’re months or years away from a final result between the two sides – will definitely hurt Google and its partners interested in Android including OEMs and carriers.

How do you feel about the whole U.S. Apple vs Samsung trial result?

12-08-24 Apple-Samsung Amended Jury Verdict

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/ngomac Chisanga Ng’oma

    Samsung always tread to close to the 3GS, that’s been well known for years, even if I think many of the design similarities were ended for funtion; how else would you design an icon for the phone app.

    Looking over the individual infringed patents, they don’t seem that difficult to work around and couldn’t come up with some novel solutions.
    I’m sceptical if anyone increase their presence on the WP bandwagon just yet.

    • EducatedToPerform

      They could have designed the icon for phone in a million other ways which would not have been the exact combination of angle, colours, shape, phone icon that Apple chose. Just Google image ‘Phone icon’ and see what they could have used. Instead, they copied.

  • MacVities

    American judge, American jury, protecting American company and American jobs.

    The courts basically said, all Americans are too stupid to tell the difference between an iPhone and a Samsung phone, and that anyone that bought a Samsung phone must have been tricked.

    So the bigger question is, ARE all Americans too stupid to tell the difference and they thought they were buying an iPhone, or did they buy the Samsung phones because they are better?

    This is a sad day for America, they showed the world how screwed up their legal system is.

    • popomano

      Everybody knows samsung is a great copy cat. this is no secret from washing machines to tvs to mobile phones. This is just apples way of validating it.
      You could not have said it better by implying that apple is an american company and please remind yourself that samsung is a korean company. Leader(apple) and fast follower(samsung). Koreans are awesome followers, just take a look at Kia motor.

      I own a samsung s3 and i can clearly tell the inspiration from apple on touchwiz from s-voice to its crappy iphoto wannabe app.
      Before the iphone came out samsung would just copy nokia, then android came out with on open source os. The rest they say is rooted in copycat history.
      This is hoping samsung uses it R&D to come up with something more of its own. Just take a look at windows phone. Samsung is in the mobile industry for a very long time. They just got lucky when android came out.

      • noneyabusiness

        ur funny… how can they copy a company they make parts for?!

        • mark

          you really don’t know what you talking about because if you did and you spent 20 years in electronics industry is I have you would know that Sony made floppy drives for Macintosh get to chips dip processors for Macintosh is were provided by Motorola the 68,000 series did the memory for that for the Macintosh information apples was provided by Motorola um did get this walking in selling a parts from all these manufactures is jujitsu it everybody buys everybody elses stuff the 1 thing that 1 company that has to buy everything from everybody else is Apple because Apple makes nothing on their own they integrate parts into a device but they do not make your own parts which is worse Samsung Motorola Sony and all the other companies have a lead on them

        • EducatedToPerform

          ‘ur funny’ – how can you possibly think that being a manufacturer for a company entitles you to copy their products?

          Every large company has sub-suppliers who manufacturer its items, for example every Ferrari, Porsche factory has many suppliers who provide the components. That doesn’t mean those suppliers can go away and rip off a Ferrari or Porsche.

      • Disgusted

        Another case of an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about…

        • vivek

          iDiot to be more accurate

      • taz89

        washing machine and tv’s really lol is it me or do all tv’s look the same i mean just like tablets they are essentially just a slab

      • Pat

        Apple copied Sony’s Walkman designs for its iPhone. Therefore, apple is also a copycat then. You can’t throw stones at other people when you live in a glass house. Actually you know I always used to wonder why Apple has never attacked Sony but pretty much all other manufacturers. Now I know why.

        Stupid Americans…atleast try and put the steering wheel in the right position you morons.

        And why the hell would you buy a Samsung galaxy s3 if you can clearly “tell the inspiration from apple”? This just solidifies the fact of the high level of stupidity that Americans possess. You guys have innovated a completely new level of stupidity. Well done and keep it up.

        • EducatedToPerform

          That would be even remotely close to resembling a tiny fraction of a point if the Walkman looked or behaved anything like the iPhone.

          Of course, it doesn’t.

          In fact, the only ‘Sony’ design related to smartphones was created by Apple – it commissioned one of its own designers to create a mock-up of what he thought Sony would produce if it created a phone.

          This ‘Sony’ mock-up that Apple created also came after they had basically created the iPhone design.

          Here is a graphic illustrating 4 Apple designs and the time they were created.

          Whether you like it or not, unlike Samsung, Apple didn’t copy or rip off any device when it made the iPhone. It was original, and that’s why it had such a massive effect on the whole smartphone industry. You don’t create that by ripping off already existing devices.

      • http://www.facebook.com/nithin1993 Nithin Gowda

        Another retard fruit fan .. OPEN your eyes and give some work to mind asshole

    • TMc51


      American judge, American jury, protecting American company and American jobs.”

      Actually, it’s an American judge, American jury protecting American company and Chinese jobs. ;)

  • Alan

    The important thing that every body is not paying attention to is: 2 days back a court in Korea sentenced Apple of infringing Samsung’s rights and patents laws; see Samsung is a Korean company and won the battle at home so this is an important reason for winning apple in U.S; maybe if the Korean court would issue the results later or maybe turning table towards apple, there would be a different result in this one as well… every body knows that apple also used many of other brand’s inventions and patents, how it is possible not to consider those acts ?? I think this kind of battles and their results are more about showing patriotism and defending the name and fame of the countries rather than paying a fare and right attention to the facts… and I do believe that the consumers are the true losers here…

    • popomano

      SEOUL: A Seoul court ruled on Friday that Apple and Samsung had infringed on each other’s patents on mobile devices, and ordered a partial ban on sales of their products in South Korea.
      The court ruling comes as the two firms are locked in a bitter patent battle that could determine their fight for supremacy in the global smartphone market.
      The Seoul Central District Court ruled that Apple breached two of Samsung’s technology patents, and ordered it to pay 40 million won ($35,242) in damages, court officials said.
      It also ordered Samsung to pay 25 million won for violating one of Apple’s patents, Yonhap news agency said.

      • Alan

        exactly, both the sides were judged and the winner was Samsung by $15 million, and as you mentioned apple also was ruled of breaching some patents… so we would expect the U.S court also to take both sides in to consideration though maybe the apple would be the winner any ways (I do believe Samsung used some of apple’s patents though it could just pay the royalty at the time) but seems the court didn’t pay any bit of attention of being fare among the two…

        • EducatedToPerform

          Are you seriously trying to prove that a home-town court case win was illegitimate by referring to a Samsung case in Korea?

  • Tevlev

    Two comments: Apple innovation is dead. As one tech blogger (in my opinion, correctly opined), a person like Jobs only comes around once in a century. Since his death, they have refined, but there is no replacing him with another creative genius of near his calibre. There will not be more massive creations from Apple. I think it is their right to use the money Jobs made for them to protect the innovations (and monies that come from them) that he is responsible for. Without him there would be no Galaxies, other Androids, tablets, media innovations, etc. Why can’t Apple protect the turf he created for them? This is their only card now. They have money, and a history of great inventions, but low prospects for future ones. PS, I love Macs, use an Android b/c I like to have something a bit different, and am a bit tired of the ecosystem control. I see myself as impartial on this issue.

    • http://twitter.com/KhurrumM Khurrum

      That’s unlikely. Phone tech had been improving. You already had good browsers, music, maps, etc. on phones before the iPhone. Its mostly a factor of miniaturization – kinda like Google with Google Glass.

  • Mikel

    I find it interesting that everyone seems to think that this case is a problem for android. The way I read it most of the patents Apple is sewing over are Samsung specific customizations. I am wrong here?

  • Miroslaw Karas

    I just wonder how many of the jurors had Android and how many had Iphone?

  • rambo

    Whatever be the verdict, consumer should be benefited from this. The mobile phone should lower the price and make it affordable. That is what people want eventually, no matter who wins.

  • Nero

    It really should matter that much to consumers, why? because every one looks for the better product every device has an inspiration for something actually not only devices but everything was inspired by something to help create its design that’s been going on for many years now but why don’t people just focus on what phone offers more instead of just calling every dam company copycat’s??? if you think about it carefully it just sounds like a dumb case, its just a marketing strategy apple is using against its closest competitor to slow down its sales. I actually have an lg optimus 4x and im pretty satisfied with its overall performance im not defending any company but just trying to say look for the phone that suits your needs the best way possible not just for a company.

    • Nero

      shouldn’t * (third word)

  • Quryous

    The more I investigate “What caused this verdict” the more obvious it is that there was SERIOUS Jury Misconduct. There may well be NO bans, at least for quite a while.

  • Peace

    haha loser… go find a company or anyone for that matters who does not infringe others even by 0.01%. Just think for a moment, why apple vs samsung and not apple vs whole android market-handsets, it looks like most of them have rounded edge. maybe apple gonna sue all of them 1 by 1 like a rotten apple.

    Honestly i never hate apple or any sides but if apple is to slow in innovating their products such as taking them ungodly years to make a screen size bigger and then sue others who are faster even though with a little samiliarities such as SHAPES! Of course people will be pissed off when they make the company they like to charge us higher pricing, slowing down the production of a new cooler handsets or even banning in countries. i love the apps that apple has and i love the phones that samsung have, i hate the audio jack sounds on samsung but love on that of apple’s.

    IMO if only Apple had made a Bigger Screen handsets or even put a Wacom in the FIRST place i will consider apple all the way. Now that Flash is dying on all android, Samsung now only has Wacom at its advantage since rumors stated apple is making bigger screen size for their handsets.

    So in conclusion, as long you got what we want, we buy it. Original or Copycat.

  • tippytom

    Asians are first rate thieves but only third rate innovators so they figure why bother. If American or European innovation will not be protected why should Americans or Europeans invest money into research just to have it stolen.