US technology giant Apple scored a significant legal victory against its Korean rival Samsung on Thursday, after a federal court in San Jose, California, awarded the American tech giant $539 million (€460 million) in damages for patent infringements.
Apple has been engaged in a seven-year legal battle over allegations that Samsung illegally copied integral design elements to its iPhone to lure consumers into buying its competing products.
Earlier rulings had sided with Apple, although the amount Samsung owes in damages has repeatedly been contested.
The jury on Thursday appeared to have arrived at a damage award of just over half a billion dollars by meeting in the middle of Apple's demand for $1 billion in compensation and Samsung's argument for $28 million.
Apple design integral?
The amount of damages awarded to Apple suggested that the jury bought into the US tech giant's claim that the iPhone's design was so integral that it was essentially as much the "article of manufacture" as the device itself.
The three design patents raised in the case related to the iPhone's black screen with rounded edges, it bezels and the rows of colorful display icons.
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Juror Christine Calderon said the panel agreed that the grid of colored icons did indeed represent the whole phone, while the display design gave the iPhone its look.
In a statement, Apple said it was grateful to the jury for finding "that Samsung should pay for copying our products."
It added: “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.”
Samsung attorney John Quinn, meanwhile, argued that the copied design features should be regarded as components to the device, rather integral to the device itself, and therefore justify a lower payout.
"Samsung isn't saying it isn't required to pay profits," Quinn said during the closing arguments. "It is just saying it isn't required to pay profits on the whole phone."
Samsung has indicated it intends to once again appeal the ruling.
A never-ending trial
Previous rulings dating back six years had found that Samsung had indeed infringed on Apple's design patents, although the amount of damages has since been repeatedly contested through various courts. The case has grown to become one of the most complex patent infringement trials in technology history.
A jury in 2012 found that Samsung should pay just over $1 billion in damages, although US District Judge Lucy Koh later reduced that amount to $548 million.
The case escalated to the US Supreme Court, which in 2016 found that a lower court needed to revisit $399 million of the damage bill.
Samsung will now have to pay an additional $140 million.
dm/bw (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)