In America, trials are rarely cut-and-dry events: even after a decision is reached the losing party can often demand a retrial, and the escalation process then begins, possibly even reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. In Apple v. Samsung, a rather unusual turn of events has just taken place. Despite Samsung having finally agreed to pay the (reduced) damages it owed Apple, the latter company is now demanding even more money. How much? $180,000,000 to be exact.
Those who have followed the trial since it began in 2011 may recall that Apple sued Samsung for allegedly making illegal use of patents and designs related to the iPhone. The trial originally ended with a verdict favorable to Apple and requiring Samsung to pay $1.04 billion in damages. Years later the total stood at a reduced $548 million, which Samsung paid on December 14th. In doing so however, Samsung also stipulated that if the ongoing disputes related to that first trial ultimately end in the Korean OEM’s favor, Apple must give back the money. Apple, in turn, argued no such reimbursement would take place.
The new damages, filed on Wednesday, argue that Samsung must pay around $180 million “in supplemental damages and interests…These further damages relate to five Samsung devices that infringed Apple’s patents and were sold after a 2012 jury verdict finding Samsung liable in the dispute” according to Reuters.
While a new trial will begin next year related to the damages from this original trial, Samsung meanwhile has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, arguing that Apple’s compensation was far too much given the patents involved. Before a hearing can be scheduled, the Supreme Court Justices would first need to agree to review the case, something it could just as easily refuse.
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Some have questioned what made Samsung “suddenly” decide to pay off the existing damages to begin with, especially given the company’s demand for potential reimbursement. While it is impossible to say what was ultimately decided upon, several theories are possible:
- Samsung’s executives became concerned with the liability-factor relating to the outstanding figure. The company has made a number of bold statements in recent weeks that underscore the difficult times currently facing the OEM. Having the Apple settlement effectively “off” the balance sheet would allow it to be taken as a loss now while the company is still in relatively good fiscal condition, rather than in the future when it might be facing a more difficult situation.
- Samsung could have used it as bargaining leverage with Apple. It is widely known that the South Korean OEM supplies numerous components for Apple’s products, and it has even been suggested that Apple may seek to purchase AMOLED panels from Samsung in the future for use with iPhone models. Samsung’s payment could be seen as a sign of good will, or even a way of trying to gain an upper-hand as if to say “we have fulfilled our requirement, so now we expect you to take us seriously.”
- Apple may have required Samsung to pay the damages before any deal regarding AMOLED production (or other new technology) could be considered. Given that LG also produces AMOLED panels, it is conceivable that Apple might have used the outstanding payout as “encouraging” board members and executives to lean towards LG for the new components.
- Samsung’s legal team may have suggested that a Supreme Court hearing is unlikely to happen and that it is better to just pay the damages now as opposed to further prolonging it.
- Samsung may be under the impression that Apple will indeed return the money should the patents related to the trial ultimately be invalidated.
It is possible one of these points has hit the nail on the head. It is also possible that the true nature may be a combination of many, or perhaps none of them at all. The politics and business decisions behind major movements like this are the stuff of speculative legend, though it is likely no one but those directly involved will ever know what happened.
At the very least, the fact that Apple is asking for even more money now stands as a rather contentious issue in and of itself: on the one hand the company seemingly has a legitimate reason to demanding damages related to such a protracted payout (the interest alone is worth a fortune) and inevitably Apple’s own stakeholders have been most displeased with the missing money not exchanging “hands”.
At the same time, for Samsung, this new filing inevitably comes across as a slap in the face. After finally paying the restitution, the company is now hit with additional fees serving to ensure the “you owe me” situation perpetuates for some time to come.
While some have referred to the ongoing legal battle as the “The Patent Trial of the Century“, the title seemingly becomes more and more apropos given the continuing and prolonging twists and turns in the matter. Clearly Apple is not happy even after it has received it’s money, yet perhaps it shouldn’t be given how much time has taken to facilitate such. Samsung, meanwhile, wants Apple’s patents invalidated so as to absolve it of any legal problems.
We want to hear what you think. Is Apple in the right here? Should it have filed new charges? Please leave your comments below and let us know!