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After five years, the Apple v. Samsung case goes back to where it all began

The long-running patent dispute is returning to the Northern District Court of California.

Published onFebruary 8, 2017

The Apple v. Samsung Electronics trial is returning to where it all began: the Northern District Court of California.

After five years going through the legal system — and reaching the highest powers of the US late last year — a federal appeals court has handed the trial back to the lower San Jose court for it to decide whether additional proceedings are necessary.

The case concerns Samsung’s patent infringement on Apple’s iPhone designs and how much it should pay in damages for the offence. Apple claims Samsung copied physical aspects of its phones – like rounded corners, and software features – such as representing apps as a grid of icons. The trial has been ongoing since 2012, during which time Samsung has agreed to pay more than half a billion dollars to Apple.

The case reached the Supreme Court towards the end of 2016 and Samsung scored a victory when it was decided that the infringement could only be applied to device components, rather than the entire device itself (thus, Samsung’s wouldn’t be penalized based on the value of the whole unit but only specific parts).

The Supreme Court didn’t provide any council on how the final damages should be tallied, though, and now the case is back with the lower court to decide if there will be a damages retrial.

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While half a billion dollars doesn’t seem like that much for Samsung Electronics to pay, especially since its actions have secured its position one of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers for many years (its patent infringement might have made a lot of sense, business-wise), I still think it’s a harsh penalty given the scope of handheld communication devices.

I mean, there’s only so many ways you can make rectangular touchscreen phone, right?

That’s my take, what’s yours? Let me know in the comments.

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