Hello, my name is Scott Wolinsky and I am a Patent Agent at Birch, Stewart, Kolasch, and Birch. Today I am going to briefly discuss the smartphone wars, and in particular the cases of Apple vs. Samsung.
A smartphone is a cellular phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, Internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded applications. Licensing and litigation has been ongoing among smartphone manufacturers and related operating system developers for the past 10 years with no slow down in sight.
The battle between Samsung, the largest smartphone manufacturer, which includes Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc. and Samsung Telecommunications American, LLC, and Apple, the second largest smartphone manufacturer, started when Apple filed a complaint in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, on April 15, 2011 against Samsung. In this first complaint, Apple alleged that Samsung copied Apple’s products, including its iPhone, in violation of Apple’s intellectual property rights. Further, Apple alleged that Samsung made its Galaxy phones and computer tablet work and look like Apple’s products through widespread patent and trade dress infringement, and that Samsung infringed Apple’s trademarks and misappropriated Apple’s distinctive product packaging. The original complaint addressed seven of Apple’s utility patents, three design patents, Apple’s trade dress of its iPhone, iPod and iPad products, three trade dress registrations and Apple’s trademarks.
Samsung filed a countersuit against Apple in the Seoul Central District Court, South Korea against Apple citing five patent infringements. Samsung also filed a suit in a court in Tokyo, Japan citing two patent infringements, and in Manheim, Germany citing three patent infringements. The disputes between Apple and Samsung expanded to other countries, such as England, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Australia. However, eventually in August, 2014, Samsung and Apple ended their patent disputes outside of the United States.
On February 8, 2012, Apple filed a second complaint against Samsung in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. Apple seeked damages and equitable relief, including a permanent injunction on the sale of some of Samsung’s products in the U.S including related software and code. On April 18, 2012, Samsung filed an answer and counterclaim against Apple. On August 31, 2012, Apple filed an amended complaint for patent infringement.
For the first complaint, the trial began on July 30, 2012. On August 24, 2012, the jury returned a verdict that Samsung infringed three Apple utility patents and four Apple design patents, and awarded $1.049 billion to Apple, which was later reduced to $930 million, and then finally reduced to $548 million after a series of appeal hearings. Samsung, which asked for $421 million in its countersuit, did not receive an award.
For the second complaint, in 2014 an eight-member jury determined that Samsung infringed two of Apple’s patents. Apple was awarded nearly $120 million in damages. In a counterclaim filed by Samsung, the jury awarded $158,000 in damages to Samsung for Apple infringing Samsung’s patents.
Samsung had indicated that it planned to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review its ongoing patent feud with Apple over smartphone technology rights. However, on December 4, 2015, Samsung finally agreed to pay $548 million to Apple, although Samsung indicated that it reserves its rights to reimbursement.
Throughout its litigation battles with Samsung, Apple implemented a strategy of adding, removing and expanding issues to keep up with prosecution updates, such as the issuance of new patents and its release of new products, in an attempt to maximize the infringement damage awards to be paid by Samsung. Samsung’s strategy was to countersue, delay, appeal and further delay until finally settling with Apple. For example, Samsung initiated several reexamination proceedings associated with Apple’s patents it was accused on infringing, which ultimately resulted in the reduction of the original damages award.
Thank you for joining me, and I hope you learned something today. Stay tuned to bskb.com for more upcoming videos of interesting cases and other commentary on intellectual property.