A federal US appeal court on Thursday ruled Samsung should have been banned from using certain patented Apple features in its devices, giving the California company a victory in the prolonged patent infringement suit between the two mobile giants.
In may 2014, A jury had determined Samsung infringed three Apple patents, one for quick links, one for slide-to-unlock and another for automatic word correction. Apple had asked the court to ban Samsung’s products that used those patents, but US District Court Judge Lucy Koh had ordered Samsung pay Apple $120 million for violating patents for the iPhone’s slide-to-unlock, autocorrect and data detection features and said monetary damages were sufficient in resolving the harm done to Apple.
According to reports on CNET, The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit disagreed.
“The right to exclude competitors from using one’s property rights is important,” Judge Kimberly A. Moore wrote Thursday in the majority opinion. “And the right to maintain exclusivity — a hallmark and crucial guarantee of patent rights deriving from the Constitution itself — is likewise important.”
Two out of the three judges said the lower court was wrong when it “required Apple to show that the infringing features were the reason why consumers purchased the accused products.”
“Apple loses sales because Samsung products contain Apple’s patented features,” the court said. “Apple does not need to establish that these features are the reason customers bought Samsung phones instead of Apple phones — it is enough that Apple has shown that these features were related to infringement and were important to customers when they were examining their phone choices.”
The appeals court vacated the district court’s decision and sent the case back to the lower court to be reconsidered. Thursday’s ruling means Samsung may have to change certain characteristics of its smartphones and tablets. The company in May said only one of its current devices used an Apple patent involved in the case.
Samsung in a statement Thursday said it agreed with the dissenting opinion of the court that “Apple’s request for an injunction is unfounded. It said it will pursue its “rights to have the full Court of Appeals review today’s decision.”
“We want to reassure our millions of loyal customers that all of our flagship smartphones, which are wanted and loved by American consumers, will remain for sale and available for customer service support in the US,” Samsung said. “For decades, we have invested heavily in developing revolutionary innovations in the mobile industry. We look forward to continue to provide American consumers with a wide choice of groundbreaking products that they have come to expect from the Samsung brand.”
Apple, meanwhile, reiterated its comment from the May 24 ruling, saying it “reinforces what courts around the world have already found: that Samsung willfully stole our ideas and copied our products. We are fighting to defend the hard work that goes into beloved products like the iPhone, which our employees devote their lives to designing and delivering for our customers.”
Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics was the first of a series of ongoing lawsuits between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics regarding the design of smartphones and tablet computers; between them, the companies made more than half of smartphones sold worldwide as of July 2012. In the spring of 2011, Apple began litigating against Samsung in patent infringement suits, while Apple and Motorola Mobility were already engaged in a patent war on several fronts. Apple’s multinational litigation over technology patents became known as part of the mobile device “smartphone patent wars”: extensive litigation in fierce competition in the global market for consumer mobile communications. By August 2011, Apple and Samsung were litigating 19 ongoing cases in nine countries; by October, the legal disputes expanded to ten countries. By July 2012, the two companies were still embroiled in more than 50 lawsuits around the globe, with billions of dollars in damages claimed between them. While Apple won a ruling in its favour in the U.S., Samsung won rulings in South Korea, Japan, and the UK. On June 4, 2013, Samsung won a limited ban from the U.S. International Trade Commission on sales of certain Apple products after the commission found Apple had violated a Samsung patent, but this was vetoed by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.