Apple & Samsung Return to Court over $400 Million in Patent Damages

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Apple and Samsung will soon be back in court.  A U.S. judge has ordered a retrial to determine how much Samsung should pay Apple for copying the design of the first iPhone, Reuters reported on Monday.

The decision was made Sunday by Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  The two phone makers have until Oct. 25 to decide a new date for the trial — although there’s a chance that they’ll settle out of court.

The patent battle concerns who owns the concept of smartphones with rounded corners, among other design features.  The original lawsuit was settled in 2012, but Samsung lawyers have managed to get that amount down to $400 million over the years.  The latest retrial is a result of an appeal by the South Korean OEM — and it’ll mean that amount will once again be reassessed.

Koh’s decision comes about 10 months after the U.S. Supreme Court set aside the $400 million in damages.  But the real question at stake concerns the exact methods to calculate damages in this type of patent battle. Namely, whether the damages should be based on the total profit from handsets sold or just a percentage of that profit.

The Supreme Court already ruled in December 2016 that the total profit calculations were unfair, and now the two tech giants will have to battle it out once again.  For example, Samsung contends that, even though it may have copied aspects of the iPhone, those designs don’t represent all of the appeal of its Galaxy devices.

Although $400 million is a fairly large chunk of change for the companies, they may have other priorities.  Apple, for example, is still in the midst of a tortuous legal battle with Qualcomm — and that’s a battle in which Samsung and Apple may be on the same side.

For Silicon Valley, the ensuing results will likely set a precedent.  According to Reuters, tech firms like Facebook and Google have said that an Apple victory would encourage design patent owners to sue for unfair awards — particularly on products that have hundreds of costly features besides the patented designs.

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