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Finally: Apple and Samsung Settle Lengthy Patent Infringement Case

  • Jul 12 2018

After seven long years of battling over a legal patent infringement, Apple and Samsung have finally agreed upon a settlement, though its terms have not been disclosed.

A History of Infringement

In  2011, Apple accused Samsung of “slavishly” copying the design and software features of its iPhone. In May, a jury awarded Apple $539 million, leaving an outstanding balance of $140 million that Samsung owed Apple. But because the terms of the settlement are unclear, it is not known how much more, if anything, Apple will receive from them.

Apple v. Samsung Infringement Case

In 2012, a jury decided that Samsung must pay Apple over $1 billion as a result of Samsung’s infringement upon various hardware and software features of the iPhone and iPad. This decision was later reduced by $450 million.

The case brought the world’s two largest smartphone makers to the Supreme Court, which in 2016, reversed the appeals court decision that Samsung was responsible for $399 million in patent infringement. The case was also sent back to the lower court for a determination of the financial penalty. Last month Apple released a statement following the jury award.

“This case has always been about more than money,” said Apple. “Apple ignited the smartphone revolution with iPhone and it is a fact that Samsung blatantly copies our design. It is important that we continue to protect the hard work and innovation of so many people at Apple.”

According to The New York Times, “Apple initially sought to block Samsung phones from the market, but the technology at dispute has long been outdated, and the fight has since largely been about money. Apple at one point sought more than $2 billion, while Samsung had argued it owed just $28 million.

Samsung is Found to Have Infringed Upon Apple’s Patents

Samsung was found to have infringed upon the majority of Apple’s patents in question, which includes its software features, such as double-tap zooming and scrolling. It also infringed upon hardware style or icon setup. According to Michael Risch, a patent law professor at Villanova University, though “Apple won most of the battles,” Samsung still managed to find a way to design around the patents in question.

Samsung Attempts to Cater to What Consumers Want

“One lesson is consumers will drive tech more than patents. Samsung went where it thought consumers wanted … and Apple stayed with its distinctive smaller shape for a much longer period that Samsung,” said Risch. “Sometimes patent can drive innovation in ways we may not have expected.”

At one point, Apple wanted to block Samsung phones from the market, but the technology in question has long been outdated. Also at one point, Apple sought more than $2 billion, with Samsung countering that it “only” owed $28 million.

Technically, Apple won the suit, but still failed to gain a competitive advantage over its competition. Apple still leads the way for industry profits, though Samsung is still keeping up with the pressure, trailing along.

It is not just large companies that need to be weary of patent infringement. If you invented a product and have the rights to a patent, but someone is trying to sell a similar technology without getting your permission for licensing, contact an experienced intellectual property attorney.

Posted in: Patents