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Apple vs. Samsung - Patent Wars

United States

A US jury recently awarded Apple Inc. $1.049 billion in damages, the fourth largest award in a US patent case, after it found that Samsung Electronics Co. had infringed a number of Apple’s patents.

Samsung, the South Korean based company, was accused of infringing three utility patents and four design patents including, the iPhone’s iconography, design of screen icons, its ‘‘pinch and zoom’’ feature, the bounce back effect, the double-tap zoom feature and their devices rounded corners design. Apple was countersued by Samsung on five patent claims, including its wireless technology patents.

The Court held that Samsung had infringed on six of the seven Apple patents and that it had ‘wilfully violated’ five of Apple’s patents, meaning that Samsung knew or should have known that its actions constituted infringement. The Court rejected Samsung’s counter-claim for patent infringement. US courts have the discretion to increase the damages by up to three times the amount found by a jury in cases of wilful violation. Apple is shortly expected to make an application to the Court for such an order.

Apple is now making an application to prevent the sale of the Samsung products that were found to be in violation of its US patents.


In South Korea however, Apple was found to have infringed two of Samsung’s wireless technology patents, while Samsung was found to have violated Apple’s bounce back feature patent. The Court banned the sale of Apple products such as the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2. Samsung was ordered to remove products using the bounce back feature, which includes the Galaxy S2, from stores. The decision however did not affect the more recent smartphone models such as iPhone 4S or Galaxy S3.


Samsung applied to the UK courts to restrain Apple from representing that Samsung’s tablet device infringed Apple’s registered community design for its iPad. The Court held that Samsung’s Galaxy tablet could not be confused with Apple’s iPad, noting that the latter was distinctive due to it being a thinner device and having ‘‘unusual details’’ on the back of the product. He noted that Apple’s design offered ‘’extreme simplicity’’, while Samsung’s products were ‘‘not as cool’’ and that the overall impression differentiated both tablet devices.

Apple was ordered to publish a disclaimer on its UK website for six months and in the media making it clear that Samsung had not copied its iPad design. However, this order will be subject to the outcome of Apple’s appeal which is scheduled for October 2012.

Contributed by Brian McElligott.

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