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Bebeto Matthews/AP
Tech wars

Samsung to appeal after US court orders $1bn payment to Apple

The court decision could have major repercussions for the smartphone and tablet market after Samsung was found to have illegally copied some Apple devices.

APPLE WON MORE than $1 billion (€800m) in a massive US court victory over Samsung late yesterday, in one of the biggest patent cases in decades — a verdict that could have huge market repercussions.

A jury in San Jose, California awarded $1.049 billion to the US tech giant, according to court documents. But analysts said the damages could be tripled because jurors found Samsung “willfully” infringed on patents.

The jury rejected the South Korean electronics firm’s counterclaims against Apple, which had claimed its iconic iPhone and iPad had been illegally copied.

From Seoul, Samsung reacted by saying it will contest the US verdict.

“We will move immediately to file post-verdict motions to overturn this decision in this court and if we are not successful, we will appeal this decision to the Court of Appeals,” the company said in a statement.

The decision appeared to be an overwhelming victory for Apple, but it was not immediately clear whether it would halt sales of Samsung devices or affect newer models released since the case was filed.

“This is a huge, crushing win for Apple,” said Brian Love, a professor of patent law at Santa Clara University.

“All of its patents were held valid, and all but one were held to be infringed by most or all accused Samsung products. Even better for the company, five of the seven patents were held to be willfully infringed by Samsung.”

Love said this means that Judge Lucy Koh “now has the discretion to triple Apple’s damages award, which is already a monstrous and unprecedented” sum.

The case, which is almost certain to face appeal, could shake up the sizzling market for mobile devices in which Apple has been losing ground to rivals like Samsung that use the free Android system developed by Google.

“Samsung is a proxy for both Google and the other Android vendors and better protected than most,” said analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group.

“I think this will force a reset on Android products as they are reengineered to get around Apple’s patents.”

iPhones and iPads

The jury decided the case with over 700 separate claims in less than three days of deliberations.

In one minor snag, the judge sent them back Friday after discovering they had made damage awards for two devices not found to have infringed, and the jurors then revised the award, which had been $1.051 billion.

The verdict affects patents on a range of Samsung products including some of its popular Galaxy smartphones and its Galaxy 10 tablet — devices alleged to have been copied from the iPhone and iPad.

But some devices are not affected, including the flagship Galaxy III S recently released, although they could be targeted in separate litigation.

Technology analyst Jeff Kagan said of the verdict: “This is a great day for Apple. And it will turn into a very expensive day for Samsung.”

Kagan said it was not immediately clear whether Samsung would be able to continue to use the technology and pay Apple for the right to do so, or if they must pull their devices and redesign them.

In any case, the verdict in the case — one of several pending in global courts — is likely to have massive repercussions in the hottest part of the technology sector, smartphones and tablets.

Even a delay in sales could endanger Samsung’s position in the US market, where it is currently the top seller of smartphones.

A survey by research firm IDC showed Samsung shipped 50.2 million smartphones globally in the April-June period, while Apple sold 26 million iPhones. IDC said Samsung held 32.6 percent of the market to 16.9 percent for Apple.

Samsung had steadfastly denied the charges by Apple, claiming it developed its devices independently, and countersued in the case, seeking more than $400 million for infringement on its wireless patents.

The verdict came the same day a South Korean court ruled Apple and Samsung infringed on each other’s patents on mobile devices, awarding damages to both technology giants and imposing a partial ban on product sales in South Korea.

The court banned sales in South Korea of Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPad 2, as well as Samsung’s Galaxy S and Galaxy S II among other products.

- (c) AFP, 2012

Yesterday: Court bans some Samsung and Apple products in South Korea

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