A federal appeals court has upheld a jury’s finding that Samsung Electronics Co illegally copied some patented features in Apple Inc’s iPhone, but it sided with Samsung on one point that could reduce the US$930 million in damages the South Korean company had been ordered to pay.
The ruling, coming three years after an epic courtroom battle between two tech industry giants, could mean yet another trial over a portion of damages representing more than a third of the total award.
However, legal experts say the rivals might be more inclined to negotiate a settlement this time around.
“When this case was first filed, it was a big deal, but I don’t think the litigation has served all the purposes that Apple and Samsung originally desired,” said Michael Carrier, a Rutgers law professor who has followed the dispute closely.
In its decision on Monday, the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of the findings made by a California federal jury in 2012. The jury concluded that several models of Samsung smartphones and tablets had illegally copied the iPhone and infringed on some of Apple’s patents for technology and design — including touchscreen controls that let users “pinch” or “double-tap” to shrink or enlarge an image.
Although it upheld the patent claims, the Washington-based appeals court said Apple was not entitled to damages for its claims that Samsung had copied the iPhone’s “trade dress” or overall product appearance.
Samsung and Apple agreed last year to settle all patent disputes still pending outside the US. Some experts believe the companies were awaiting the outcome of appeals in two US cases before settling here.
Monday’s ruling orders a trial court in San Jose, California, to reconsider about US$382 million in damages that jurors previously awarded for the “trade dress” claims, which involved six models of Samsung phones.
The same case has already seen one retrial: After a judge cut US$450 million from an original damage award of more than US$1 billion, a second jury restored the total to about US$930 million.
Apple declared vindication again on Monday.
“This is a victory for design and those who respect it,” the company said in a statement.
Samsung representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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