After a month-long trial in a US federal court in San Jose, California, an American jury has ordered Samsung to pay $119.6m to Apple for smartphone patent violations. This is far less than the $2.2bn that Apple had sought, accusing Samsung of infringing five of its patents covering functions such as the “slide to unlock” from its devices.
Samsung denied any wrongdoing and sought $6m after arguing Apple had infringed two of its smartphone patents related to camera use and video transmission.
On Friday, the jury found the South Korean smartphone-maker had infringed two Apple patents.
“Though this verdict is large by normal standards, it is hard to view this outcome as much of a victory for Apple,” said Brian Love, a Santa Clara University law professor.
“This amount is less than 10% of the amount Apple requested and probably doesn’t surpass by too much the amount Apple spent litigating this case.”
Apple and Samsung have been fighting patent battles for years and across many countries. Jurors awarded Apple about $930m after a trial in San Jose in 2012, but Apple failed to persuade US district judge Lucy Koh to issue a permanent injunction against the sale of Samsung phones in the US.
The latest case involves five Apple patents that were not at issue in the 2012 trial and that cover iPhone features such as slide-to-unlock and search technology. Apple had sought to ban sales of several Samsung phones, including the Galaxy SIII, and wanted a little more than $2 billion in damages.
It is now up to Koh to decide if a sales ban is warranted, although legal experts say that is unlikely. “An injunction is extremely unlikely,” a professor at Rutgers Law School, Michael Carrier, said. “The Federal Circuit sets a high bar.”
Responding to the verdict, Apple said the ruling reinforced its stance that “Samsung willfully stole our ideas and copied our products”.
“What the verdict shows is that Apple’s patents did not play a significant role in consumer decisions,” Carrier wrote. “One wonders if the endless smartphone patent wars, costing millions and putting the focus on the courtroom rather than the innovation lab, are worth it.”
During the trial, Samsung argued that Apple had vastly exaggerated the importance of its patented iPhone features. Apple said Samsung could not have competed in the smartphone market without unfairly copying Apple’s flagship product.
Samsung, which had asserted a $6 million damages’ claim, was awarded $158,400.
The two companies also sparred over how Google’s work on the software used in Samsung phones, Android, affects Apple’s patent claims.
Google was not a defendant in the case, but in the trial Samsung pointed out that some of the features Apple claimed to own were actually invented by Google, and it called on a handful of Google executives to testify on its behalf.
Apple said Google should not affect how the jurors analyzed Samsung’s liability, partly because Google had agreed to reimburse some of Samsung’s costs.
After the verdict, Apple’s lawyers argued that the jurors had made a technical mistake in awarding damages to Apple on a patent covering one of Samsung’s phones. Koh ordered the jurors to return on Monday to resolve this issue, which could increase Apple’s damages award by a few hundred thousand dollars.