Apple and Samsung finally settle the seven year old iPhone design patent dispute

Terms of the settlement between Apple and Samsung filed in a US District Court are not available.

Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd on 27 June settled a seven-year patent dispute over Apple’s allegations that Samsung violated its patents by “slavishly” copying the design of the iPhone.

Terms of the settlement, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, were not available.

In May, a US jury awarded Apple $539 million, after Samsung had previously paid Apple $399 million to compensate for patent infringement. Samsung would need to make an additional payment to Apple of nearly $140 million if the verdict was upheld.

How much, if anything, Samsung must now pay Apple under the 27 June settlement could not immediately be learned.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the terms of the settlement but said Apple “cares deeply about design” and that “this case has always been about more than money.” A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment.

A sales assistant uses her mobile phone next to the company logos of Apple and Samsung at a store in Hefei, Anhui province September 10, 2014. Apple Inc unveiled a watch, two larger iPhones and a mobile payments service on Tuesday as Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook seeks to revive the technology company's reputation as a wellspring of innovation. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - GM1EA9A1GRH01

A sales assistant uses her mobile phone next to the company logos of Apple and Samsung. Image: Reuters

Apple and Samsung are rivals for the title of world’s largest smartphone maker, and the dollar sums involved in the decision are unlikely to have an impact on either’s bottom line. But the case has had a lasting impact on US patent law.

After a loss at trial, Samsung appealed to the US Supreme Court. In December 2016, the court sided unanimously with Samsung’s argument that a patent violator does not have to hand over the entire profit it made from stolen designs if those designs covered only certain portions of a product but not the entire object.

But when the case went back to lower court for trial this year, the jury sided with Apple’s argument that, in this specific case, Samsung’s profits were attributable to the design elements that violated Apple’s patents.

Michael Risch, a professor of patent law at Villanova University, said that because of the recent verdict the settlement likely called for Samsung to make an additional payment to Apple.

But he said there was no clear winner in the dispute, which involved hefty legal fees for both companies. While Apple scored a major public relations victory with an initial $1 billion verdict in 2012, Samsung also obtained rulings in its favor and avoided an injunction that would have blocked it from selling phones in the US market, Risch said.

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