In May 2014, a jury decided that monetary damages were ample compensation for Samsung’s infringement of three Apple patents. However, this Thursday a US appeals court ruled that monetary compensation wasn’t enough, and that Apple should be able to “exclude competitors from using one’s property rights.”
Originally, the lower courts required Apple to show that these infringing features in question were the main reason why consumers purchased these devices in the first place. Two of the three judges in the appeals said that it should have only been necessary to prove that Apple lost sales because Samsung’s products contained the California company’s patented features.
The court explains:
Apple does not need to establish that these features are the reason customers bought Samsung phones instead of Apple phones — it is enough that Apple has shown that these features were related to infringement and were important to customers when they were examining their phone choices.
After vacating the district court’s original decision, the appeals court returned the case to the lower court for reconsideration. This ruling may mean that Samsung will have to change some infringing aspects of their tablets and smartphones. However, Samsung says that only one of its current devices is using one of the patented features discussed by this case, so overall, Samsung may not be taking a big loss after all.
In response to this ruling, Samsung released a statement that reads:
We want to reassure our millions of loyal customers that all of our flagship smartphones, which are wanted and loved by American consumers, will remain for sale and available for customer service support in the US. For decades, we have invested heavily in developing revolutionary innovations in the mobile industry. We look forward to continue to provide American consumers with a wide choice of groundbreaking products that they have come to expect from the Samsung brand.
Some major tech companies like Google, Facebook, eBay, and Hewlett-Packard expressed concern in July that a ruling in favor of Apple might have “significant detrimental consequences for the continued development of useful modern technologies,” and would give Apple unfair leverage for its own gain.
The patented technologies Apple claims were stolen by Samsung include swipe-to-unlock capabilities, automatic spelling correction, and the ability to tap phone numbers in emails to dial them.