Apple: Not Quite Total Victory over Samsung

August 25th, 2012
in econ_news, syndication

smart-phoneSMALLEconintersect:  Court decisions in the U.S. and Korea have fully supported and completely faulted Samsung in their suit and counter suit cases over patent rights covering the technology and design of the iPhone.  The most recent decision came Friday afternoon in San Fransisco when a jury found that Samsung smartphones "wilfully" violated Apple patents.  The jury awarded more than $1 billion in damages to Apple.  The verdict also found that none of Samsung's patents had been infringed by the American firm.  According to Stanford law professor Mark Lemley, quoted by the Financial Times, the result was "sweeping" and was a new record award for intellectual law cases.

Follow up:

Earlier Friday (24 August 2012), a Korean court returned a mixed verdict.  In that decision Apple was found to be in violation of Samsung's wireless technology patents.  Samsung was found to have infringed on screen operation functions that were patented by Apple.  Both parties were ordered to pay limited damages.

According to the Associated Press (Washington Post):

The Seoul Central District Court ruling called for a partial ban on products from both companies, though the verdict did not affect the latest-generation phones — Apple’s iPhone 4S or Samsung’s Galaxy S III — or the newest iPad.

According to the Associated Press, products that must be removed from stores in South Korea are older models.  Named products were iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, the original iPad and the iPad 2.  Samsung was ordered to remove an older model smart phone, the Galaxy S II, from store shelves.

The Korean decision was considered by some to be a "home court advantage" result for "home boy" Samsung, although it could also be viewed as Solomonic in nature.

These were the first two countries out of a total on nine to resolve patent dispute cases between Apple and Samsung.  For each country the results may differ from others because the local patent laws apply and the sequence of patent filings may not be the same for all countries.  The timing (dates) of filing processes are an important factor in determining patent precedents.

Of the two results, the one in California is easily the most dramatic, both because of the size of the U.S. market and the relative dominance of the results favoring Apple.  Apple does not have a big market position in South Korea.

Bloomberg ran the headline:

Samsung Found to Infringe Most Apple Mobile Patents


This may be somewhat misleading because the very first line of the article states that Samsung was found to have infringed six of the seven Apple patents that were subject of the case.  Econintersect expects that Apple (and Samsung as well) have considerably more than seven moblie technology patents.  All those other patents were not a part of this case.

However, this was an historic case.  The Financial Times quoted Prof. Mark Lemley, Stanford Law School:

“There is no larger patent verdict that has survived appeal,” he said, referring to two bigger awards that were later reduced. “One of the things about the sweeping nature of the win is it’s awfully hard to imagine the federal circuit reversing on all these issues ... The whole trial, Samsung was on the defensive.”

There are now a number of questions about the status of other smartphone products that also use Google's Android operating system, as did the Samsung products found in violation of Apple patents.  Observers feel that it could have a dampening effect on the efforts of technology companies to compete with the iPhone, to the detriment of creating new products using the Google operating system.

The technology and design features that were found to violate Apple patents were unrelated to the operating systems.  They were look, feel and function features such as shape of the phones - the way the corners were rounded, the form of the glass front on the phones, touch screen operating functions and app icons.  Apple claimed these features were copied to confuse customers into being unable to distinguish between Apple and Samsung phones.

The San Fransisco jury found that Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet product did not infringe on Apple patents, according to the Financial Times.

According to Reuters, the verdict could lead to a ban on related Samsung products in the U.S.


The phones pictured above are newer models than the ones cited in the law suits settled today.

John Lounsbury


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