Nearly six years after a federal jury awarded Apple over $1 billion for Samsung infringements of iPhone intellectual properties, a jury retrying the damages portion of the case has reached a unanimous verdict, modifying the figure to $538,641,656 across five design and utility patents. The verdict comes after years of damages-only retrials and appeals, including a visit to the United States Supreme Court.
Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. began in April 2011 with Apple’s allegation that certain Samsung smartphones infringed on iPhone inventions including patents and trademarks. Apple won the trial in August 2012, receiving an initial award of $1.049 billion, but was forced back into court for subsequent disputes over legal questions and damages. Following the first verdict, Samsung paid Apple $548 million in damages, roughly $399 million of which was at stake here.
During the latest retrial, the key issue has been the appropriate definition of the phrase “article of manufacture” — specifically, whether to calculate the damages Apple suffered based solely on the specific value of five iPhone patents Samsung infringed, or upon the total value of a phone containing those innovations. If a $600 phone contained $300 of infringed Apple parts, Samsung might argue that it owed Apple damages only for the $300 portion, while Apple might say that its $300 of innovations enabled sales of $600 phones.
The retrial has been looming since December 2016, when the U.S. Supreme Court returned the case to a lower federal court for a jury to determine whether the entire phone or its components were the correct “article of manufacture.” Last October, the federal court ordered a jury retrial on that issue, using a new test focused on four factors:
- “[T]he scope of the design claimed in the plaintiff’s patent, including the drawing and written description,”
- “[T]he relative prominence of the design within the product as a whole,”
- “[W]hether the design is conceptually distinct from the product as a whole,” and
- “[T]he physical relationship between the patented design and the rest of the product … [whether] the design pertains to a component that a user or seller can physically separate from the product as a whole” and “the design is embodied in a component that is manufactured separately from the rest of the product, or if the component can be sold separately.”
Not surprisingly, each side polarized its measure of damages to persuade the jury to fall somewhere in the middle. Samsung suggested damages of $28 million, while Apple asked for $1 billion, telling the jury to “put it in context: Samsung infringed millions and millions and millions of times.” The jury’s verdict included $533,316,606 for infringement of Apple’s design patents, and $5,325,050 for infringement of its utility patents, totaling just over $538.6 million. That figure sits roughly in the middle of the companies’ extremes, but is higher than the $399 million that was originally at stake in the retrial, a victory for Apple.
Following the verdict, Apple said in a statement that “it is a fact that Samsung blatantly copied our design” and that it is “grateful to the jury for their service and pleased they agree that Samsung should pay for copying our products.” Samsung responded, saying that “[t]oday’s decision flies in the face of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in favor of Samsung on the scope of design patent damages. We will consider all options to obtain an outcome that does not hinder creativity.”
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