US jury orders smartphone maker Samsung to pay Apple $150m

SAN JOSE, Calif. - A US jury on Friday ordered Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to pay US$119.6 million (S$149.89 million) to Apple Inc, a big loss for the iPhone maker in the latest round of their globe-spanning mobile patent litigation.

During the month-long trial in a San Jose, California, federal court, Apple accused Samsung of violating patents on smartphone features including universal search, while Samsung denied wrongdoing. On Friday, the jury found the South Korean smartphone maker had infringed two Apple patents.

Apple and Samsung have been litigating around the world for three years. Jurors awarded the iPhone maker about US$930 million after a 2012 trial in San Jose, but Apple failed to persuade US District Judge Lucy Koh to issue a permanent injunction against the sale of Samsung phones.

Some industry observers see the ongoing legal dispute as Apple's attempt to curtail the rapid growth of phones based on Google Inc's rival Android software, because Samsung was by far the largest adopter of the operating platform. "Though this verdict is large by normal standards, it is hard to view this outcome as much of a victory for Apple. This amount is less than 10 per cent of the amount Apple requested, and probably doesn't surpass by too much the amount Apple spent litigating this case," said Brian Love, assistant professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law.

"Apple launched this litigation campaign years ago with aspirations of slowing the meteoric rise of Android phone manufacturers. It has so far failed to do so, and this case won't get it any closer." The current case involves five Apple patents that were not in the 2012 trial and that cover iPhone features like slide-to-unlock and search technology. Apple is seeking to ban sales of several Samsung phones, including the Galaxy S III, and sought just over US$2 billion in damages.

It will now be up to Judge Koh to decide if a sales ban is warranted, though legal experts deem that unlikely. "An injunction is extremely unlikely," argued Michael Carrier, a professor at Rutgers Law School. "The Federal Circuit sets a high bar."


During the trial, Samsung argued that Apple had vastly exaggerated the importance of its patented iPhone features, while Apple said the South Korean company could not have competed in the smartphone market without unfairly copying its flagship product.

The two tech leaders also sparred over how Google's work on the software used in Samsung phones affects Apple's patent claims. Samsung's phones run on the Android mobile operating system developed by Google Inc.

Google was not a defendant in the case, but during the trial Samsung pointed out that some of the features Apple claims to own were actually invented by Google, and called a handful of executives from the Internet search giant to testify on its behalf.

Apple said Google shouldn't affect how jurors analysed Samsung's liability, partly because Google had agreed to reimburse some of Samsung's costs.

Samsung also claims that Apple violated two patents on streaming video. It is seeking to ban the iPhone 5, and asserted a US$6 million damages claim. On Friday, the jury ordered Apple to pay Samsung US$158,400.

The case in US District Court, Northern District of California is Apple Inc vs. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, 12-630.