Apple's Win Settles Samsung's Complaint, Too

May 3, 2014
Originally published on May 3, 2014 12:33 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Yesterday a jury handed down a mixed verdict in a patent dispute between Samsung and Apple. Both sides were found to have violated each other's patents, however Apple received most of the damages - over $119 million.

But as NPR's Laura Sydell reports, many experts say the case can be seen as a victory for Samsung and may mark a turn in the international battle between the two smartphone makers.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: When the late Apple CEO and founder, Steve Jobs, introduced the first iPhone, he famously made this remark.

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STEVE JOBS: You can do multi-finger gestures on it. And, boy, have we patented it.

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SYDELL: When other smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy, started using touchscreens rather than keyboards, Jobs declared they were copying Apple and succeeded with a stolen product. In the most recent case, Apple was asking for $2.2 billion in damages from Samsung for violating five patents. Yesterday, the jury came back finding that Samsung only violated two of them. David Martin, who runs a patent evaluation company, says it's a rebuke of how much Apple thought its innovation was worth.

DAVID MARTIN: There's obviously a significant delta between what the jury figured out and what Apple thought it had figured out.

SYDELL: In a statement, Apple said that its victory on the two patents reinforced that Samsung stole its ideas and copied its products. But Martin believes that Apple is probably starting to rethink its strategy.

D. MARTIN: You look at the total expenditure that Apple has put on preparing for and prosecuting these cases. They're probably not coming out very far ahead with respect to a $119 million verdict.

SYDELL: However, Apple did get a larger verdict in an earlier trial against Samsung. It won over a billion dollars. But that verdict was reduced, and it's on appeal. Lately, Apple has been having a hard time winning patent fights around the world. Florien Mueller consults with companies on patents and writes a blog on the topic.

FLORIEN MUELLER: In the rest of the world, especially in Europe where Apple brought a number of lawsuits, it has been utterly unsuccessful.

SYDELL: Mueller and others also see the latest lawsuit as Apple's most direct attack on Google, which makes the Android operating system in Samsung phones. All of the patents at issue were software.

MUELLER: Google must be joyous because Apple has now been litigating against Google's Android operating system for more than 50 months. And more than four years later, Apple has been absolutely unable to gain decisive leverage.

SYDELL: In this most recent trial, the jury found that Apple had violated one of Samsung's patents as well, though it only awarded the company $158,000. Samsung only asked for a few million in damages. Samsung hasn't officially commented.

On background, a source close to the company told NPR it was pleased with the verdict. And the smartphone wars, as they've been called, probably aren't quite over. Apple still has other cases pending in the U.S. and around the world. Laura Sydell. NPR News, San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.