Date
11 December 2017
Apple Inc. says the ruling confirmed Samsung blatantly copied its products and called it a victory for design and for those who respect it. Photo: WSJ
Apple Inc. says the ruling confirmed Samsung blatantly copied its products and called it a victory for design and for those who respect it. Photo: WSJ

Apple wins new round in Samsung patent war

Apple Inc. has won a ruling from a federal court that rival Samsung Electronics Co. infringed its intellectual property rights.

However, the judge set aside part of a US$930 million jury award, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Apple prevailed on the most central issue, with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirming that a range of Samsung’s devices infringed several of Apple’s patented inventions for the iPhone.

The court, a specialized body that handles patent appeals, also rejected Samsung’s arguments that a trial judge wrongly permitted jurors to award damages based on Samsung’s entire profits from its infringing smartphones.

The appeals court, however, ruled against Apple’s “trade dress” claims that Samsung copied the iPhone to trade on the public recognition associated with the distinctive look and design of Apple’s device.

The court said Apple’s trade dress claims, which focused on design elements such as the iPhone’s rounded corners and screen icons, were based on functional elements of the phone that weren’t entitled to legal protections under US trademark law.

The court sent the case back to the trial level for the damages award to be recalculated and possibly reduced for the portion of the case Apple lost on appeal.

Samsung has argued damages should be lowered by US$382 million because it was wrongly held liable on trade dress issues.

Apple has argued that it still would be entitled to that money because the Samsung devices in question also infringed its design patents.

An Apple spokesman said Monday’s ruling “confirmed Samsung blatantly copied Apple products. This is a victory for design and those who respect it.”

A Samsung spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Monday’s decision by a three-judge panel was unanimous.

The appeals court battle came after an August 2012 trial in San Jose in which a federal jury found that a range of Samsung devices, including the Galaxy S II and the Droid Charge, infringed Apple’s patents.

Jurors originally awarded US$1.05 billion in damages but that figure was reduced to US$930 million after the trial judge called for a retrial on some damages issues.

The case has been a marquee event in the smartphone wars between Apple and Samsung, which have sued each other in courts around the world.

The rivals last year agreed to drop all litigation outside the US.

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