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Apple, Samsung settle 7-year patent dispute over smartphone design

  • 28 Jun 2018

The resolution comes a month after a jury concluded Samsung owed Apple $539 million for copying some of the iPhone's innovations in some of Samsung's competing products.

This file photo taken on April 6, 2017 shows the Apple logo displayed at a store in the central business district of Sydney. ( AFP )

Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd on Wednesday settled a seven-year patent dispute over Apple's allegations that Samsung violated its patents by "slavishly" copying the design of the iPhone.

The rivals notified US District Court Judge Lucy Koh of the truce in a notice filed on Wednesday. 

Terms of the settlement, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, were not disclosed. 

In May, a US jury awarded Apple $539 million, after Samsung had previously paid Apple $399 million to compensate for patent infringement. Samsung would need to make an additional payment to Apple of nearly $140 million if the verdict was upheld.

How much, if anything, Samsung must now pay Apple under Wednesday's settlement could not immediately be learned.

The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its office building in Seoul, South Korea, March 23, 2018.(Reuters)

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the terms of the settlement but said Apple "cares deeply about design" and that "this case has always been about more than money." 

A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment.

Apple and Samsung are rivals for the title of world's largest smartphone maker, and the dollar sums involved in the decision are unlikely to have an impact on either's bottom line. But the case has had a lasting impact on US patent law.

The verdict was reached after the US Supreme Court issued a 2016 ruling that determined a portion of earlier damages awarded to Apple needed to be re-examined.

After a loss at trial, Samsung appealed to the US Supreme Court. In December 2016, the court sided unanimously with Samsung's argument that a patent violator does not have to hand over the entire profit it made from stolen designs if those designs covered only certain portions of a product but not the entire object.

But when the case went back to lower court for trial this year, the jury sided with Apple's argument that, in this specific case, Samsung's profits were attributable to the design elements that violated Apple's patents.

Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S, left, and Apple's iPhone 4 are displayed at the headquarters of South Korean mobile carrier KT in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, April 22, 2011.(AP)

Michael Risch, a professor of patent law at Villanova University, said that because of the recent verdict the settlement likely called for Samsung to make an additional payment to Apple.

But he said there was no clear winner in the dispute, which involved hefty legal fees for both companies. 

While Apple scored a major public relations victory with an initial $1 billion verdict in 2012, Samsung also obtained rulings in its favor and avoided an injunction that would have blocked it from selling phones in the US market, Risch said.

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