Samsung now won't have to pay Apple $382M for copying the iPhone, but Apple still stands to get damages from Samsung in the continuing patent-infringement case.
Samsung has won part of its appeal of a $930 million court verdict that was awarded to Apple in 2012, when Samsung was ordered to pay for infringing on patents related to Apple's iPhones.
Under a decision handed down on May 18 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, Samsung's original penalty was lowered by $382 million as the court ruled that Apple could not receive damages related to the basic design and layout
of the iPhone, which the court said is a general design that can't be protected, according to a May 18 report by Money.CNN.com
In its original patent-infringement lawsuit against Samsung, Apple argued that Samsung's smartphones mimicked Apple's design, with a rectangular body, rounded edges and other features. But in its ruling on Samsung's appeal of that original case, the U.S. Court of Appeals "ruled that the overall 'look' of the iPhone is so integral to the way other touch-screen smartphones work that Apple can't prevent Samsung (and probably other companies) from using the same general designs," the article reported. Designs can only be patented under the law if they serve a non-functional purpose, such as aesthetics.
In its ruling, the court "said the shape of the iPhone, on the other hand, is functional," and isn't subject to protection, the article reported.
At the same time, the court also gave a partial victory to Apple in the case, upholding a lower court ruling that Samsung infringed on several other Apple patents, the news story continued. A jury will now have to recalculate the damages that could be awarded to Apple in the case.
The August 2012 verdict in the case seemingly had ended a three-year-old, back-and-forth patent war between Samsung Electronics and Apple, according to earlier eWEEK
reports. Then Samsung appealed the $930 million patent-infringement award that it was ordered to pay to Apple.
The lawsuit involved infringements of features used in the company's Galaxy smartphones.
The Samsung-Apple patent fight has had lots of ups and downs in recent years as the two tech superpowers have been fighting over innovations and features in their respective devices.
In August 2014, the legal fight appeared to be lessening somewhat when Samsung and Apple agreed to at least end their legal fights internationally, which reduced the number of battles they enjoined around the world, according to an earlier eWEEK
report. That armistice did not, however, include the United States, where their legal fight continues.
After losing the original August 2012 case, Samsung distributed an internal memo that clearly stated that it would not give up on its legal fight against the allegations. The memo said that the original California court decision starkly contrasted with similar decisions made by courts in other countries where the infringement allegations were not successful.
The Samsung memo said that the company would continue to work to prove that its products were based on original designs that contain its own innovations.
For both companies, the stakes are truly huge because of the case's implications for competition in the multibillion-dollar mobile device market.
The original August 2012 jury verdict in California found that Samsung infringed on Apple's mobile device patents in the design of its tablets and smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Galaxy 10.1 tablets and such smartphone models as the Captivate, the Galaxy S line, the Fascinate and the Epic 4 G.
Interestingly, Samsung reached a 10-year patent deal with Google in January 2014 to share patent licenses with each other for existing and future innovations, according to an earlier eWEEK
report. Google and Samsung have been close partners in combining Google's Android mobile operating system and Samsung's mobile device hardware for several years.