In what feels like a never-ending technology patent spat, Apple has just been awarded a hefty amount of damages from Samsung related to design patent infringement. In a retrial of the ongoing lawsuit from Apple that alleged Samsung took its patented designs for its own products several generations of phones ago, the court awarded Apple just shy of $539 million in damages. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman is listing the damages as a $533.3 million award, plus some additional concessions for another $5.3 million.
Apple's statement is clear and doesn't sugarcoat things:
Apple statement on Samsung trial verdict: “it is a fact that Samsung blatantly copied our design” … “We're grateful to the jury for their service and pleased they agree that Samsung should pay for copying our products.”Apple statement on Samsung trial verdict: “it is a fact that Samsung blatantly copied our design” … “We're grateful to the jury for their service and pleased they agree that Samsung should pay for copying our products.”— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) May 24, 2018May 24, 2018
This particular case over design patents has been dragging on since 2011. Some may forget that it was actually already determined by the courts that Samsung infringed on Apple's patents, but the two companies have since been continuously battling over how much Samsung would pay in damages. Apple initially asserted that it was owed as much as $1 billion from Samsung, but several counter-lawsuits, appeals, retrials and arguments ensued to reduce that award. It was previously set that Samsung owed roughly $400 million for infringing some specific patents, and now Apple can set the $539 million number in stone.
Apple was eventually awarded $120 million in damages from Samsung in a separate lawsuit back in November 2017 related to Samsung's use of slide-to-unlock on its phones — that trial also took several rounds of back-and-forth with appeals before it finally concluded. There's no way this is the last we'll hear of the Apple-Samsung patent lawsuits, be it over old products or new ones. So long as these are the leaders in the smartphone business with an incredible amount of money available to tie things up in the courts, we'll see patent battles.
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Samsung undoubtedly copied the feature from iOS, but slide to lock existed way before the iPhone launched therefore one would expect prior art to be an effective argument for Samsung. But thanks to the utterly broken US patent system this isn't the case. Baffling.
People get mad at Apple for making these patents and starting these lawsuits, but really they're just taking advantage of the system. Businesses primarily want to make money, even if that means exploiting a system, but if the system was designed correctly in the first place, Apple wouldn't be able to get away with it.
Completely agree about the system being broken, but this particular lawsuit has mostly fallen apart and this is the only part where Apple can win anything. The entire thing is the remnants of Steve Jobs's "thermonuclear" anti-Android campaign. Cook et al just need to do an Elsa and let it go.
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