Judge rules that Samsung did not ‘willfully’ infringe on Apple’s patents

By , Jan 29, 2013

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Last August, a California jury found Samsung guilty of infringing on several Apple patents in a high-profile trial. The initial damages awarded to Apple totaled $1.05 billion, but since Samsung was found to have ‘willfully’ infringed, that amount was expected to multiply.

Not so fast. The two companies have been attending post-trial hearings with Judge Lucy Koh over the past few months to plead their cases for appeals and other motions. And tonight, Judge Koh has issued a ruling overturning the jury’s willful infringement finding…

Koh writes that establishing willful patent infringement takes a two-prong analysis: an objective inquiry and a subjective inquiry. The subjective inquiry is for the jury, which in this case found Samsung guilty, and the objective inquiry is for the court, which did not.

The Verge’s Bryan Bishop does a nice job of explaining it:

“As Koh writes in the ruling, for an ultimate finding of willfulness to hold Apple needed to prove that there was an “objectively high likelihood that its [Samsung's] actions constituted infringement of a valid patent.” Samsung had argued that it had reason to believe Apple’s patents were invalid — so that even if Samsung had infringed, it couldn’t be found to have done so willfully. Koh found Samsung’s arguments reasonable enough to rule out an overall finding of willful infringement. In other words, she believed Samsung went into the whole situation with a reasonable belief that it wasn’t in the wrong.”

So what does all of this mean for Apple? Well, obviously the big thing is that it won’t be receiving any additional damages for willful infringement. And although the current $1.05 billion verdict stands, Koh could theoretically reduce the amount in light of this ruling.

In addition to the aforementioned overturn, the Judge also issued a few other rulings tonight in regards to the case. She denied Apple’s request for enhanced trade dress damages, as well as claims from Samsung that some of Apple’s patents were invalid.

Koh still has several post-trial motions to rule on, but it’s nice to see that they’re making progress. Hey, the sooner this thing wraps up, the sooner the two companies can get started on next year’s big trial. The case is scheduled to hit the courtrooms in March of 2014.

As far as this non-willful infringement verdict, I’m still not convinced. I’m in the camp that believes that Samsung knew exactly what it was doing when it ‘took inspiration’ from Apple’s devices, and that it’s at least part of the reason why it’s so successful today.

What do you think?

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  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    “I’m in the camp that believes that Samsung knew exactly what it was doing when it ‘took inspiration’ from Apple’s devices, and that it’s at least part of the reason why it’s so successful today.”

    Ain’t that what Apple did in the first place? They gained inspiration from several phones that were made before it, and simply advanced on it. Or you actually believe they made the first mobile phone with a touch screen?

    • http://www.facebook.com/luisreyespr Luis

      But what was the ‘simple advance’ at Samsung’s products? Professional Mimicking? Come on!

      • Gerard Hampton

        it has been proven that apples design is a combination of older designs plus their own touches. they should think themselves lucky theyre getting anything from this case. The judge has obviously seen that and has to be unbiased. the basic design of most common items are the same, if thats how humans use it naturally it shouldn’t be patented. imagine your car, house, chair, tv, clothes all being patented and only one company being allowed to make them in their design. its ridiculous.

      • http://www.facebook.com/luisreyespr Luis

        I understand that you have a different opinion, still where you see ridiculous I see justice. If its proven Apple designs is a combination of older designs, it is also proven that is Apple that combine all those designs and produce them to the consumers. After all, combining technology into producing a new idea or product is EXACTLY what the patent system protects. And a patent doesn’t mean eternal ownership plus theres licensing, so natural stuff can still happen eventually. Anyway if a court can’t seem to agree between them, us mere comment-ors mortals probably won’t.

    • Melvco

      No, I don’t think Apple made the first touch screen mobile phone. But I also don’t think you could put a pre-iPhone handset next to an iPhone and have them look as similar as the two do in the above picture.

      But to better clarify my point that you quoted: I sold cell phones for a major carrier for a few years. And before we carried the iPhone, we sold more Fascinates and other Samsung handsets than any other Android phones because customers would come in and ask for “the one that looks like the iPhone.”

      Also, I recall an internal Samsung report being brought to light during this original trial where the company called for their Galaxy handset to “look more like the iPhone.”

      http://www.idownloadblog.com/2012/08/08/internal-samsung-document/

      • max

        And apple is a saint right? Their whole ios 5 & 6 upgrades were all based on stealing ideas from the jailbreak community and just because they can’t patent their ideas, doesn’t make it right for apple to steal their ideas and make it their own. All i’m saying is, you don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house. Both companies get inspiration from others and i don’t see why you guys are complaining because, in the end we win the consumer.

      • SoCoMagNuM

        I be damned if the world had products that look similar to another…Im sorry but i cant agree there. Just cause customers wanted a phone that “looked” similar to another item doesn’t mean a thing. The phones operated differently (u know the main functions of the smart phone) so beyond looks the looks they were 2 different beast. People just got all butthurt cause iphones didn’t seem so exclusive anymore. Whooptie do.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Karyuudo Owain T. Yamanaka

      No Sony Ericson made that with the P800. Apple’s been copying everyone else, but never gets burned for it. I wish Sony would sue them, and I hate Sony with a passion too.

  • ap3604

    Glad the high prices we pay for apple and samsung products go towards such a great cause: long, drawn out, bickering trials that make lawyers rich :-/

    Really though I don’t give a s*** if samsung copies apple, or if apple copies samsung. More power to em’ as long as its the consumer that benefits from it!

    • Kurt

      same here…i want us to win in the end. copy more and copy harder. apple, i want spilit screen on my ipad. now copy!

    • SoCoMagNuM

      Ive been saying that all along. Who cares who copies. We the consumers just want great products we pay for. I spend my money where i please. Who cares if another device looks like mines. Whats mines is mines and whats theres is there. Why is it so hard for people to let them co-exist. Both Apple and Samsung produce awesome products. Let us the consumer win

  • Prasad GSMarena

    “I’m in the camp that believes that Samsung knew exactly what it was doing when it ‘took inspiration’ from Apple’s devices, and that it’s at least part of the reason why it’s so successful today.”

    So the moment Apple “took inspiration” from Sony and LG (chocolate/1st Prada), thats nothing? Apple also a copycat in this whole thing, it just went outrage when another company try to copy them. Whats a big deal?

    • http://twitter.com/Jack_maredit Jackson Grong

      Duude, you just made that up.

    • RarestName

      Samsung copied the LG Prada.

  • Nvrhde

    Wht ever.
    Any news on JB,
    Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/brandonweidema Brandon

    i’m on the fence more or less because “inspiration” comes from so many sources. Just look at some of Dieter Rams’ work, im sure Jonathan Ive was “inspired” by his designs as well. As long as Samsung doesnt make totally shitty products, does it really matter?

  • J M

    Regarding your last paragraph…isn’t the whole point that Samsung absolutely knew what it was doing? However they maintain that apple’s design patents are not valid and therefore infringement is not possible. It doesn’t even sound like Samsung is disputing the source of their inspiration. They say “yea we got our ideas from the iPhone but so what, we didn’t infringe any VALID patents.”

    It seems straight from the Verge’s quote that the two ideas of Samsung copying Apple and also having non-willful infringement are not mutually exclusive from one another

  • http://www.facebook.com/tafk1 Taf Khan

    But did Samsung will fully copy Apples design, as in the shape of its products, it packaging style, it accessories such as charger, the charging ports etc… Did Samsung try to hitch a ride on apples success? Samsung deserve all the punishment they get, no sympathy here…

  • http://aalaap.com Aalaap Ghag

    So it’s okay to do something illegal if you don’t know that it’s wrong?

  • intelxtreme

    apple iphone is a piece of junk samsung looks totally different

  • Gray

    Am I the only one who thinks this whole Apple v. Samsung lawsuit is just getting way out of hand? Okay, sure, the Galaxy S series looks somewhat similar to the iPhone, in that it’s a rounded rectangle with a 4×4 icon grid and 4 icon hotbar. And yet, the iOS Notification Bar also sort of just takes from what Android (I know, Google product, not Samsung) had already created too.

    I’ll be the first to say that I switched from a Captivate (AT&T branded S1) to the iPhone 4S. I like the iPhone more because it’s significantly faster, and more reliable. Very few crashes in comparison. But I did enjoy my Captivate because I could run custom ROMs and tweak it very drastically, because Android does provide a bit more customizability than iOS, even when jailbroken. And Samsung’s Android devices are probably the best available, not only on a hardware aspect but even comparing TouchWiz to other stock launchers like Blur or Sense.

    I think both of them just need to agree that they’re getting inspiration from the good things in other companies and find some way to benefit them both instead of getting into this mess of lawsuits that’s obviously dragging both companies down from what they could be otherwise. They’re both incredible companies, and they had a long standing partnership given that Samsung produced the A# series SoC’s for the most part. Why can’t it just go back to that? :/

    • Kurt

      of course the 4S is faster than your old S1…it is an older device!

      • Gray

        It’s not even just that. I have two family members owning 3 different S2 devices — one has two Skyrockets, one for work and one for personal use, and the other has the original S2. Both models were from the same generation as the 4S, and both models perform slower as well. As much as I like the devices, it’s the operating system that makes the difference, which provides a smoother experience and faster response time.

        Don’t take me as an anti-Android person. I’m actually a supporter of both Android and iOS. Android is improving significantly over these past few years, and I’m excited to see what more they’ll come out with. It’s just that, prior to Jelly Bean, Android was rather sluggish as an OS by comparison, and it was only recently that the S2 even got that, while the S1 still doesn’t have it officially.

      • Kurt

        thats a better comparison, an s2 and iphone 4s. if you check out the vids on youtube, iphone 5 is slower (not much for me to care) but its slower than the note 2. i’m not sure what version jelly bean is, as i dont know much about android. but im quickly becoming a fan of the note 2 since its blows the iphone 5 away with good looks and more importantly features. if i dont get the next version of lumia it will be nice to have the note 3 and have a spare battery! with such a big screen i’m sure ill be using it a lot more than my baby screen on my iphone hehe

      • Gray

        I’ll agree that the Note 2 is fantastic. I’d love to rock two phones and have a Note 2 and iPhone 5 honestly, just to have the best of both worlds. But I’ll probably just stick with my 4S for the time being and buy a Nexus 7 whenever I can afford it. To me, it’s just much more viable to spend $250 on a 32 GB tablet, than $600 for the iPad with Retina or even $430 for the iPad mini (both 32 GB models respectively).

        And yeah, that’s the biggest downside to iPhone. This 3.5″ screen really hurts with some things, especially games like Heroes of Order & Chaos. But I just can’t deny the difference in performance and stability, as well as the variety of apps available both on the App Store alone and in Cydia.

      • Kurt

        umm, did you say 250 bucks for a nexus 7 with 32gb? man that sounds nice! with regards to apps, thats why im gonna stick with the ipad 5, there are some awesome apps. for iphone i really need change. i just want some better. and if i do go andriod they do have a lot of great apps. but the app store is king in that department

      • Gray

        Yup. That’s for the Wifi only model, but I was also comparing to the Wifi only models of iPad as well.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ishaanmalhotra92 Ishaan Malhotra

        Performance wise, my i5 has been faster than my note 2 and specially in case of gaming. But jellybean is a fun OS to use. The large screen is fantastic.

      • Kurt

        is jellybean the latest android os? it looks so fluid and smooth and really interesting.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ishaanmalhotra92 Ishaan Malhotra

        Yup, its the latest. 4.2.1

  • http://www.facebook.com/rickey.grant.9 Rickey Grant

    Totally agree. Samsung capitalize on apple’s designs

  • http://twitter.com/Coach_Emmett Coach E

    This whole thing is about not much. The truth regarding who did what between Apple and Samsung is somewhere in the middle neither of them are completely innocent in all of this legal wrestling.

    If you are devoted to either platform it is a waste of time to try to convince the other group how much better your choice is.

    Keep evolving is the only thing I care about. I have had Windows, Android and now iOS and I prefer my iOS right now. If something better for me comes along and it is something else I will be right there using it.

  • http://twitter.com/Chindavon Chindavon

    Samsung: We had no idea our smartphones looked like the iPhone. Okay, ya the iPhone may have started this trend with their design and software, and okay maybe our smartphone looked exactly like the iPhone, and okay ya maybe our power cube and USB cable connection looked exactly like Apple’s, and maybe our head honcho in the corporation told us to make it like the iPhone, but I swear your honor, we did not “willfully” copy their stuff.

    Judge: Done! That’s all you guys had to say. Silly Samsung, next time just tell the truth. Have a nice day you guys. Case dropped, and you guys are free and clear.