Since 2011, a patent-related battle has been waging between Apple and Samsung over the features shared between the iPhone and other devices produced by the South Korean conglomerate. But now, it looks like Samsung will definitively have to pay the price of infringing on Apple’s patents — albeit for significantly less than originally thought.
Although the percentage of drivers who use handheld cell phones while behind the wheel decreased to about 3.3% in 2016, that doesn’t mean consumers are any less attached to their mobile devices. Loyal Apple fans will likely recognize the unique design and operating features of the gadgets in the iPhone family. Samsung reportedly infringed on many of those components, including their slide-to-unlock feature, the home screen grid layout, and even the phone’s rounded corners. There’s even a printed circuit board infringement to contend with. Given the advancements in PCB assembly — turnaround times for manufacturing can be five days or less these days — it may surprise some that Samsung has also been accused of using the same type of printed circuit board (a GH59-09418A) in its phones as Apple does.
Earlier trials already determined that Samsung did, indeed, infringe three of Apple’s design patents and two functional patents. But while Samsung was found to be guilty, what wasn’t so clear was how much they should pay for the infringement. Initially, Apple demanded a sum of $2 million, which was then decreased to $1 billion, based on the profits Samsung made from the devices sold that used infringed components. In appeals court, it was decided that Apple couldn’t trademark the appearance of the iPhone, so Samsung was forced to pay only about $548 million in 2015. Both companies also agreed to drop international litigation at that time. But other appeals have popped up since then, one of which concluded in November 2017 and resulted in Samsung paying an extra $120 million.
Now, in this final decision, Samsung has been ordered to pay a total of $539 million in damages — though according to Apple, the trials have never been about monetary gain.
In a statement to Bloomberg, Apple said: “We believe deeply in the value of design, and our teams work tirelessly to create innovative products that delight our customers. This case has always been about more than money.”
That said, it seemed like Apple would stop at nothing to obtain every last dollar to which they were entitled. Perhaps now the near-decade-long court case will finally be put to rest and both companies can concentrate on their own (and hopefully unique) innovations.