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Apple Defeated Over Samsung Damages Increase

Apple’s attempt to wring more cash out of Samsung following its patent infringement defeat last year has been rejected by a US court.

And more concerning for Apple, which has vigorously pursued a legal onslaught against the South Korean tech giant for the last few years, the US court ruled that Samsung did not willfully infringe on some of Apple’s patents.

Court Rulings

The bad news for Apple came when the federal judge Lucy Koh, who for months has presided over the Apple/Samsung bust up in in the Northern District of California, ruled that Samsung did not have to pay even more damages, having been ordered to pay Apple $1.05 billion (£650m) last August.

Apple had wanted triple that amount of damages, potentially meaning that Samsung would have to pay over $3bn in damages.

And Apple also suffered a setback in the case in December, when Judge Lucy Koh denied Apple an injunction that would have blocked sales of particular Samsung models in the United States. At the same time however she also denied Samsung a retrial, which it had sought on grounds of jury misconduct.

But perhaps more galling for Apple is Judge Koh’s ruling over a number of Apple patents.

Although the judge reasserted that Samsung had in fact violated Apple’s intellectual property and some of its patents regarding the iPhone and iPad, and the user interface (tap to zoom, pinch to zoom etc) – she did however more significantly overturn the jury finding that Samsung’s acts of patent infringement were willful.

“The Court also grants judgement as a matter of law that Samsung’s acts of patent infringement were not willful,” wrote Judge Koh in her highly detailed 40 page ruling on the matter.

Because Judge Koh ruled that there had been no objective willfulness, she denied Apple any damages enhancements for willful infringement.

“The most important part of this JMOL ruling is that Judge Koh, unlike the jury, did not find a willful patent infringement by Samsung. In order to prevail on this one, Apple needed to prove both objective and subjective willfulness,” wrote patent analyst Florian Mueller in an advisory.

“In a post-trial motion Apple had asked for the damages award to be increased on different grounds. On the basis of the jury’s findings of willful patent infringement, Apple wanted parts of the award to be tripled,” wrote Mueller. “It also wanted enhancements for trade dress infringement and dilution. And it asked for supplemental damages relating to the period between the trial and the final ruling. The question of supplemental damages still has to be decided by the court. The requested enhancements for willful patent infringement and for trade dress infringement and dilution have, however, been denied in their entirety.”

Apple Setbacks

Apple has been on the receiving end of a number of legal setbacks recently. In December the US Patent Office invalidated Apple’s “pinch-to-zoom” patent. And the US International Trade Commission (ITC) has said it will review a judge’s preliminary decision that Samsung infringed four Apple patents but not two others.

This month a Dutch court ruled that three Samsung Galaxy tablets did not copy the design of Apple’s market-leading iPad. That decision upheld a decision by the British courts last July that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 could not possibly be confused with that of the Apple iPad because it wasn’t “cool” enough.

As the relationship between Apple and Samsung has become even more bitter, it emerged that Apple has been seeking to reduce the number of Samsung components and chips in its devices.

Yet it is important to note that it has not been a one way street, and Samsung has likewise suffered its own legal setbacks of late, most notable its denial of a request for a retrial, its failure to ban Apple products in Europe, and the fact that it is still liable for a hefty fine in the United States.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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