A federal jury on Friday found that Samsung violated some of Apple's iPhone patent rights, ordering the South Korean tech giant to pay about $120 million in damages -- a fraction of what Apple sought from its chief smartphone rival and the jury rejected many of Apple's copying claims.
In addition, the jury found that Apple violated one of Samsung's patents, ordering the iPhone maker to pay $158,000 in damages. Apple had sought $2.2 billion in damages from Samsung.
The verdict is unlikely to be the end of the patent feud. The outcome is almost certain to be appealed to a federal appeals court, which already is reviewing the first round -- lost by Samsung two years ago -- in the rivals' struggle for legal supremacy over smartphone technology.
In the meantime, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh is expected to be asked to order a new trial or set aside at least parts of the jury's findings. The outcome also may rekindle efforts to settle, although Apple and Samsung top executives have been unable to resolve their differences for years.
The jury's verdict is the latest chapter in the global conflict between Apple and Samsung, the top powers in the smartphone and tablet markets who are locked in a continuing legal and sales battle over technology that has reshaped daily life.
Apple has instigated the feud, for the past four years depicting Samsung as an unrepentant copier of iPhone and iPad technology that should be ordered to pay a steep price for climbing up the market ladder on the back of the Cupertino company's innovations. To Apple, the case has been about protecting those innovations through the patent system .
But Samsung has struck back hard, portraying Apple as a bully trying to stifle competition. The maker of the increasingly popular line of Galaxy smartphones and tablets has denied copying, arguing that consumers are buying their products because they are cheaper and offer better features such as screen size, not because of any duplication of iPhone gadgetry.
Both sides have spent tens of millions of dollars on lawyers, consultants and others to persuade judges, juries and to an extent the public that they are in the right.
The four-week trial that just concluded was the second case pressed by Apple over allegations of patent infringement. Apple prevailed in August 2012, when a federal jury found that Samsung violated iPhone and iPad patents in dozens of its devices, and the South Korean company was hit with close to $1 billion in damages.
However, Apple failed to secure a permanent injunction that would bar Samsung from continuing to sell those smartphones and tablets in the United States. While those older Samsung devices are for the most part off the market, the failure to get an injunction has been a blow to Apple's overall legal strategy -- not only punishing Samsung through damages, but restricting its sales in the U.S. of products Apple considers the fruit of iPhone technology.
Samsung has appealed the first jury's verdict to the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., the court that reviews all patent cases. Apple, meanwhile, has appealed Koh's refusal to issue the injunction.
The second trial was a very different affair than the first, particularly because of the role Google played. In the first trial, Apple's case centered on allegations Samsung copied the very "look and feel" of the iPhone and iPad, while the patents at issue in the second trial involved software features such as the slide-to-unlock and auto-word correct.
Samsung argued that Apple was in fact targeting software features for the most part developed by Google for its Android operating system, which ran the ten Samsung products in the trial. Samsung's lawyers told the jury that Apple's case was about its "holy war" against Google, quoting a comment from an internal email from late CEO Steve Jobs, and not truly aimed at Samsung.
But Apple accused Samsung of trying to hide behind Google, telling the jury that Samsung, not Google, decides what technology to include and sell in its smartphones and tablets. Apple also introduced evidence that Google has agreed to cover at least part of Samsung's legal costs if it loses the patent case.
With the latest trial concluded, Apple would be expected to again ask Koh to block the sales of any Samsung products the jury finds infringed Apple's patent rights. But the legal standard set by Koh and the appeals court in the first trial could be an obstacle in the second case.
Meanwhile, Apple's legal assault continues to lag behind the release of newer Samsung products. As the second trial unfolded against smartphones such as the Galaxy S3, Samsung was releasing its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S5.
Legal experts have said that patent litigation such as Apple's simply cannot keep pace with competitors unveiling newer product lines. Samsung, a newly-released report in late April shows, now holds the largest share of the worldwide smartphone market, although its share slipped in the first quarter of this year for the first time since 2009.
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