Apple takes bite out of Samsung in the USA

After four weeks of trial in the US District Court in San Jose, California (Apple Inc vs Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd et al, C 11-1846 & C 12-0630), a jury verdict on 24 August 2012 found Samsung had wilfully infringed Apple’s patents and designs registrations and diluted its iPhone trade dress rights. The jury awarded Apple US$1.049 billion in damages. Samsung was awarded zero damages in its counter suit.

Apple’s attorneys have filed a request to stop all sales of the Samsung products found to infringe, whilst Samsung is already moving to file post verdict motions to overturn the ruling.

With the reduced competition, ironically the decision could lead to less choice and higher prices for US consumers, at least in the short term, and may even harm Apple’s goodwill amongst the general population longer term.

Things are more evenly matched in South Korea

The US decision contrasts sharply with a decision issued on a case between Apple and Samsung the same day from the Seoul Central District Court, South Korean court. A three judge panel found that both parties had infringed on each other’s patents, particularly, that Apple infringed two Samsung technology patents, while Samsung violated one of Apple’s patents. The court subsequently awarded damages against both parties. The court banned the sale of Apple’s iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, two iPad models and ordered Apple to pay Samsung US$35,000. Samsung’s Galaxy S2 was banned from sale and the court ordered Samsung to pay Apple US$22,000.

The gloves are off in Australia

Neither of these recent decisions is expected to have any real affect on Australian court proceedings currently underway between Apple and Samsung. The suit and scope of their IP rights is very different compared to those in the US and South Korea, and the applicable laws very are different. There is some overlap in the patent issues in the US case, but the ornamental design rights and trade dress issues are not part of the Australian case. Samsung is not expected to settle the Australian case despite the US finding against them.

What’s next?

One question now is whether Apple will similarly pursue Google in relation to its Android operating system.

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