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Did Samsung rip off the iPhone? Yup.

By Shannon Williams, Tue 19 May 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

A US federal appeals court has upheld a jury’s finding that Samsung has indeed infringed on a number of Apple’s design and utility patents for the iPhone, but reversed part of the decision that could reduce the original $930 million in damages.

The long-running dispute between two of the world’s largest tech giants began when Apple sued Samsung in April 2011. A 2012 jury found that numerous Samsung smartphones infringed Apple’s patents in various combinations and ordered Samsung to pay Apple nearly $1 billion in damages. Specifically, the jury found Samsung infringed Apple’s design and utility patents and diluted Apple’s trade dresses.

The appeals court upheld the jury’s verdict on the design patent infringements, the validity of two utility patent claims, and the damages awarded for the design and utility patent infringements appealed by Samsung. 

However, the court reversed the jury’s findings that the asserted trade dresses were ‘protectable’ and vacated the jury’s damages awards against the Samsung products that were found liable for trade dress dilution, excluding that portion of damages. 

Therefore the court upheld $600 million in damages, and ordered a partial retrial on the remainder. 

In its ruling, the appeals court says, “Samsung contends that it should not have been found liable for infringement of the asserted design patents because any similarity was limited to the basic or functional elements in the design patents.”

According to Reuters, Samsung said that the original damages award was excessive and unprecedented, arguing it should not be forced to pay such a high price for making a ‘rectangular, round-cornered, flat-screened, touch-screened phone’, calling those features ‘basic’. In response, Apple said Samsung was trying to downplay its ‘shameless copying’ of the iPhone design to increase its market share.

A jury will now need to determine how much of the remainder $382 million in damages Samsung will have to pay Apple.

Apple, which stands to collect just under $600 million from Samsung, says the decision is still a victory. 

"This is a victory for design and those who respect it," the company says.

Josh Rosenstock told BuzzfeedNews, “Even though Samsung must pay for its widespread infringement of our patents, this case has always been about more than money. It’s about innovation and the hard work that goes into inventing products that people love, which is hard to put a price on.”

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