Apple wins $US1 billion from Samsung in patent infringement case: Five insights from the landmark trial

Samsung infringed on Apple’s patents and must pay $US1 billion in damages.

That was the jury decision over the weekend in what has been one of the most iconic intellectual property cases in recent history, and certainly one of the most important ever in the tech industry.

A California jury found Samsung “wilfully” infringed Apple’s patents, relating to several features in the iPhone including multi-touch gestures, and a patent related to the icons used on the phone.

Although the jury found Samsung did not infringe a patent for tablet design, the damage was done. It now owes Apple $1.05 billion.

Apple’s reaction is no surprise. Chief executive Tim Cook sent an internal memo to all employees saying the lawsuit was about “something much more important than patents or money”.

“We value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. And we do this to delight our customers, not for competitors to flagrantly copy.”

While the trial may be over – for now – there is still plenty we can learn. Here are five key insights we can gain from the Apple/Samsung trial.

1. Litigation costs a lot

That $1 billion damages fee may sound like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to what Samsung and Apple will pay its lawyers.

Apple used Morrison & Foerster LLP, and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Door LLP, while Samsung used Quinn Emanuel Urguhart & Sullivan LLP.  And according to this Wall Street Journal article, fees could range as high as hundreds of millions.

“My estimate for this trial is a half a billion total,” Stanford professor and intellectual property lawyer Mark A. Lemley told the publication.

Apple may enjoy the $1 billion from Samsung. But fees will end up negating a lot of the benefit.

2. American judges can be harsh

Judges already have a no-nonsense reputation, but US District Judge Lucy Koh took that to a new level in the Apple/Samsung case.

Throughout the trial, Koh has grown angry and frustrated with counsel on both sides. When one lawyer requested Koh reverse a decision in the case, she yelled, “I want you to sit down!”

Koh had grown frustrated with the length of the trial. Last year, she asked both companies to sit down in a room and sort it out.

“Can’t we all just get along here? I’ll send you a box of chocolates, whatever.”

The most amusing comment came earlier this month when she asked one counsel whether he was serious about submitting a 75-page briefing covering 20 witnesses.

“You want me to do an order on 75 pages, (and) unless you’re smoking crack, you know these witnesses aren’t going to be called when you have less than four hours,” Koh said.

The counsel assured her that he was not, in fact, smoking crack.


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