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Apple Wins and Wins Big

In a slam-dunk verdict Apple was awarded a mammoth $1.051 billion in damages from Samsung

Apple has triumphed in the first major decision in its sprawling legal fight across four continents against Samsung, which stands as proxy for Google and its Android operating system.

In a slam-dunk verdict delivered in record time by a Silicon Valley federal jury Apple was awarded a mammoth $1.051 billion in damages, a sum that is likely to be trebled because Samsung was found guilty of willfully infringing five Apple patents.

It wasn’t a clean sweep for Apple. It failed to prove that Samsung violated one of the patents it charged the Korean company with infringing and that was a so-called design patent. It also failed to get the $2.5 billion, at least, that it wanted in damages.

However, the jury upheld the validity of all seven of Apple’s in-suit patents and dismissed out of hand Samsung’s arguments that prior art existed that would scotch them.

The jury also said that Samsung hadn’t proved its claims that iPhone, iPad and iPod touch infringed a couple of its FRAND patents for which it’s been demanding heavy licensing fees that Apple refuses to pay. That means Samsung failed to get the hundreds of million of dollars in damages it claimed.

While Samsung is bound to appeal, Apple is likely to press to have the injunction barring Samsung’s phones from being sold in the United States enforced. It is currently stayed. Another injunction barring the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is currently in force.

The injunctions pertain to older-generation devices but the Apple victory, supporting its contention that its technology was stolen, is expected to send a freezing chill through the whole Android contingent.

Even Google had warned Samsung, which is also Apple’s single largest supplier, not to duplicate Apple’s widgetry so closely.

It was one of Samsung’s lawyers who, in his closing argument, warned that the jury’s decision could change the nature of competition. It is believed it could impact other cases pending both in the US and other countries as well as the future design and features of smartphones and tablets.

As complicated as the three-week trial was supposed to be, the jury – faced in the end with 109 pages of instructions, a 20-page multi-part verdict form and more than a score of devices to compare in the jury room – rendered its decision after less than 24 hours of deliberations.

It got the case on Wednesday and returned on Friday – a good thing too – the weekend will give everybody on both sides a chance to sober up.

Samsung was pretty much condemned out of its own mouth.

Apple was able to show the jury Samsung’s own detailed 132-page dissection of the iPhone and notes on where Samsung’s phone should be changed to resemble it.

One of Samsung’s senior scientists said in e-mail that the iPhone created a “crisis of design” for the Korean company and described the difference between the iPhone and the Galaxy S1 as the “difference between heaven and earth.”

The court was told that Samsung had sold 22.7 million infringing smartphones and tablets, which Apple reckoned accounted for $8.16 billion in sales since June 2010, an estimate Samsung denied, but not very convincingly.

The New York Times quoted a squib on LinkedIn written by Al Sabawi, a former IBM executive and founder of Quantopix, a software company, that bears repeating:

“To all the lazy copycats out there,” he said, “who think cutting and pasting is an intellectual achievement, that hard work, sweat and tears don’t matter, that ideas, designs, and innovations can be stolen willy-nilly with no consequences: This is to you.”

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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