08 / 20 / 2012

Apple vs. Samsung - A $1 Billion dollar Law Suit

Judge Koh during the reading of the verdict.
(Credit: Vicki Behringer)

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It wasn't even close.

After 21 hours of deliberation, a nine-person jury has sided with Apple on a majority of its patent infringement claims against Samsung Electronics. The jury also awarded Apple more than $1 billion in damages.
Apple had originally sought $2.75 billion in damages, and though it wasn't unanimous on all counts, the verdict was overwhelmingly in Apple's favor. Samsung, which asked for $421 million in its counter-suit, did not receive a nickel. (Refer to jury document at the end of this story.) 
The scorecard highlights: 

  • Jury found Samsung infringement of Apple utility, design patents for some (though not all) products.
  • Jury found willful infringement on five of six patents.
  • Jury upheld Apple utility, design patents.
  • Jury upheld Apple trade dress '983.
  • Jury found Samsung "diluted" Apple's registered iPhone, iPhone 3, and "Combination iPhone" trade dress on some products, not on others.
  • Jury found no Apple infringement of Samsung utility patents.
  • Jury found Samsung did not violate antitrust law by monopolizing markets related to the UMTS standard.
  • Damages owed by Samsung: $1.05 billion ($1,049,393,540 to be exact)

The jury informed the court at 2:35 p.m. that it had reached a verdict, which was read in front of District Judge Lucy H. Koh as soon as the parties were assembled. The speed of the verdict apparently came as a surprise: One of Apple's lawyers walked into the courtroom wearing a polo shirt and jeans, so clearly he wasn't expecting this today.

The trial, which stretched more than three weeks, was characterized by a bewildering and massive trove of evidence that unveiled some of each companies' biggest secrets. By any measure, this was a complex case that presented jurors with page after page of technical minutiae. To reach their decision, jurors had to work through a 20-page document that required them to discern which devices from the two companies infringed on which patents -- a daunting task considering Apple had accused nearly two dozen of Samsung's devices of violating patents.

For Apple, information revealed during the trial included prototypes of iPhone and iPad designs that never saw the light of day, as well as highly detailed financial data that went far beyond what the company typically makes public. There were also e-mails between executives, one of which included mention of high interest in a smaller version of the iPad.

For Samsung, it was a series of damning internal documents, many of which showed that the company looked to Apple's devices for cues when designing its software icons and general features. One such internal report contained numerous side-by-side slides in which the company put a prerelease version of its initial Galaxy smartphone next to the iPhone and offered suggestions on how to make the Galaxy more similar to the Apple device.

Historians may want to note that all this took place as Tim Cook celebrated his first anniversary as CEO. 

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