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Samsung Fined Heavily For Copying Designs From iPhone

  Nabeel Akhtar

The alarming news was released on Thursday, wherein a federal court jury has fined Samsung and intimidated them to pay Apple a hefty $533 million for copying design features, in a patent case dating back seven years.

Jurors imposed an additional amount of $5 million in damages for a pair of patented functions. This decision appears to be a bit of a victory for Apple and a great disappointment for Samsung fans. Apple had long argued in courts that design was essential to the iPhone and thus the commotion over copying design features.

“We don’t think it is supported by the evidence,” Samsung attorney John Quinn told US District Court Judge Lucy Koh after the verdict was given in her courtroom located in Silicon Valley. “We have every concern about the determinations about the article of manufacture.”

Quinn also declined an offer by the judge to send jurors back for further deliberation, stating that Samsung wishes to pursue post-trial motions to address its concerns about the verdict.

Apple reasoned in court that design was so integral to the iPhone that it was the “article of manufacture” and worth all the money Samsung made by copying the features.

The lower figure sought by the South Korean consumer electronics titan would have involved treating the design features as components.

The jury of the court had been asked to determine whether the design features under discussion are worth, all the profit made by Samsung smartphones thereafter or whether those features are worth just a fraction of the profits because they are components.

Apple argued in court that the iPhone’s design is as much the “article of manufacture” as the device itself.

The three design patents contested in the case apply to the shape of the iPhone’s black screen with rounded edges and a bezel, and the rows of colorful icons displayed. Also involved are two utility patents also involved applying to “bounce-back” and “tap-to-zoom” functions.

Samsung no longer sells the smartphone models at issue in the case.

Samsung has also challenged the legal precedent that requires the forfeiture of all profits from a product, even if only a single design patent has been infringed. This was the outcome of a lengthy previous trail which had also proved that Samsung had copied design elements from Apple.

The US Supreme Court in 2016 however overturned the penalty imposed on Samsung  and ruled that Samsung should not be required to forfeit the entire profits from its smartphones for infringement on design components.

“Today’s decision flies in the face of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in favor of Samsung on the scope of design patent damages,” said Samsung in response to an AFP question. “We will consider all options to obtain an outcome that does not hinder creativity and fair competition for all companies and consumers.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

The key question of the value of design patents got support for Samsung from major Silicon Valley and other IT sector giants, including Google, Facebook, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard whereas Apple was supported by big names in fashion and manufacturing.

The fine amount imposed on Samsung is $548 million which has been eased down from an original $1 billion jury award.

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