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Apple, Samsung Prepare To Spar Again

Apple loses bid to ban sale of some Samsung devices; the two will face off in court again this month in their ongoing dispute over patents.

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Apple lost its bid to ban the sale of certain Samsung smartphones and tablets in the US, thanks to a new ruling. This means the first major court case between the two smartphone behemoths stateside is coming to a close (save for the appeals), just as the two companies prepare to spar anew over more recent products.

A California jury in August 2012 found two dozen different Samsung devices guilty of infringing on Apple's smartphone patents. Apple was originally awarded $1.05 billion in damages. Apple also sought to prevent Samsung from selling the offending devices in the US, saying that the monetary damages alone "are not an adequate remedy." The US Department of Justice, although it doesn't have the final word in the matter, has stated plainly that it doesn't like the idea of product bans based on patent infringement. The judge overseeing the case agreed, saying that Apple "has not established that it is entitled to the permanent injunction it seeks."

It's a moot point, however, since Samsung has discontinued and is no longer selling most of the infringing devices.

[For more on the ongoing patent dispute between Apple and Samsung, read Apple, Samsung Patent Battle: Round 2.]

But the monetary damages are not moot, and Samsung is prepared to contest them. The judge overseeing the trial vacated about $400 million of the original award, and a jury later recalculated the amount to be $290 million. Samsung now owes Apple about $930 million in damages, but it believes the amount was "based on erroneous calculation methods."

While the reverberations of the 2012 case continue to impact Apple and Samsung, the two companies are gearing up a brand new patent fight. Apple followed up its original lawsuit (first filed in 2011) with a second one, naming Samsung's newer smartphones and tablets, including the Galaxy S III. The judge overseeing the trial asked the companies to reach an accord ahead of the first court date, but that hasn't happened. The leaders of Apple and Samsung met last month in an attempt to avert the trial but were unable to agree on settlement terms.

This second trial begins later this month and will go on for 14 days. With Samsung's newer -- and still available -- products under attack, the outcome of the case could be more significant than that of the first.

Apple and Samsung are the world's smartphone leaders, though Samsung's market share is significantly higher than Apple's (31.3% vs. 15.3%). Together, the two account for about 47% of all smartphone sales and nearly 100% of smartphone profits. Samsung recently announced the Galaxy S5, a new flagship smartphone it hopes will take the worldwide crown once it goes on sale in April.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
3/7/2014 | 10:39:18 AM
Re: Who wins?
That's a great point, but unfortunately oftentimes it's just too lucrative. A lot of these giant businessees with huge patent collections can make a large portion of their yearly income just suing people over similar-ish products. 

Still not sure what either hopes to gain in this case, it's clearly neverending. If anything it's more of an indictment of the current patent legislation, which allows patents for things like curved corners to be accepted. 
Lorna Garey
IW Pick
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
3/6/2014 | 4:51:25 PM
Re: Who wins?
So essentially it's a giant waste of money-slash-corporate welfare for legal staffs. Nice.
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
3/6/2014 | 4:47:14 PM
Re: Who wins?
The way in which large companies can drag judgements like this out for years renders such cases meaningless. By the time this is settled, the state of the art will be something else.
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
3/6/2014 | 4:39:51 PM
Who wins?
Answer: Lawyers. All these costs end up passed along to customers and/or carved out of R&D or dividends. If either company cared about customers, employees and stockholders they'd get to mediation and work it out.
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