U.S. court rejects Apple's bid to raise damages in Samsung case

Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:54am EST
 
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By Miyoung Kim and Sakthi Prasad

(Reuters) - South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co did not willfully infringe on some of Apple Inc's patents, a U.S. federal court has ruled, foiling Apple's attempt to ratchet up the $1.05 billion in damages it was awarded last August by a U.S. jury.

The ruling removes a dark cloud hanging over Samsung, which, if the decision had gone the other way, could have been forced to pay triple the original judgment, or more than $3 billion in the worst-case scenario for Samsung's balance sheet, according to analysts and patent experts.

As it stands, Samsung is forging ahead of its arch rival in the smartphone market that Apple virtually created with its first iPhone in 2007. In December, the same U.S. court denied Apple's request for a permanent injunction against Samsung's smartphones.

Tuesday's ruling overrules the jury's finding that Samsung acted "willfully" when it violated several of Apple's patents, a finding that could have formed the basis to triple the damages owed by Samsung.

"To the extent that Apple does address lost downstream sales, Apple discusses only Samsung's gains and makes no attempt to identify any specific losses Apple has suffered," U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh wrote in her ruling.

Koh said the court could not enhance the damages "given that Apple has not clearly shown how it has in fact been undercompensated for the losses it has suffered due to Samsung's dilution of its trade dress," or, the look and feel of its products.

She said the jury, which had examined the case earlier and found that Samsung had copied critical features of the iPhone and iPad, had ample opportunity to compensate Apple for Samsung's use of its product designs.

Koh also denied requests from both Samsung and Apple for a new trial. Samsung had said a major patent verdict in favor of Apple should be overturned and Apple had sought a new trial to overturn some of the jury's findings and to try other issues on which the jury failed to rule.   Continued...

 
The Apple logo is pictured at the company's flagship retail store in San Francisco, California January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith