Apple Win Over Samsung Sends Message To Industry

After just three days of deliberations, a jury reached a verdict in the high-stakes trial between Apple and Samsung over patent infringement. The federal jury found that Samsung infringed on several of Apple's patents, and it awarded Apple more than $1 billion in damages.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Apple has won a decisive victory in a closely watched patent lawsuit. A federal jury in California yesterday ordered Samsung to pay Apple slightly more than $1 billion. The jury found that the world's largest maker of smartphones had essentially stolen iPhone and iPad technology. As NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports, the impact of the ruling is likely to be felt throughout the tech industry.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: After nearly a month of testimony, it took the Silicon Valley jury less than three days to reach a verdict. And Stanford Law Professor Mark Lemley says it's one of the largest patent damage awards in U.S. history.

MARK LEMLEY: The jury ruled for Apple almost across the board, finding that all of Apple's patents were valid and that most of them were infringed by Samsung's phones and tablets.

KAUFMAN: And, he says, the jury also found that Samsung had basically copied Apple's designs and some of its technology deliberately, willfully.

LEMLEY: That gives Judge Koh the power, if she decides to, to increase the damages awarded by up to three times. So, this is a billion-dollar verdict that could end up being a three-billion-dollar verdict.

KAUFMAN: The lawsuit, one the Wall Street Journal dubbed the patent case of the century, involves patents relating to design and how things work. For example, Apple said Samsung ripped off its technology, allowing a user to pinch the screen in order to zoom in and out on an image. The jury had to look at more than two dozen Samsung devices and determine if they infringed on any of several patents owned by Apple, and if so what the damages should be for each device. The jury agreed with Apple on most charges but did not accept every single one of the company's assertions. And while the verdict was huge, it didn't approach the more than $2.5 billion in damages Apple has sought. From the somewhat nuanced verdict, Stanford Law Professor Lemley concludes...

LEMLEY: The jury took their job quite seriously.

KAUFMAN: The jury also looked at claims made by Samsung. In its counter suit, the company charged that Apple had infringed on some of its patents. But the jury rejected every one of Samsung's charges. In a statement released last night, the South Korean company said in part: Today's verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. The statement went on to say the verdict will lead to fewer choices, less innovation and potentially higher prices. Attorney Christopher Carani, an expert in patents and design law, doesn't see it that way.

CHRISTOPHER CARANI: This really can be an exceptionally opportunity for the consuming public. This is going to force companies to come up with unique, creative and different designs for both smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices.

KAUFMAN: Here's why: While this verdict applies only to Samsung, other companies have also borrowed liberally from Apple. They're now on notice that if Apple sues them, they might well lose, so they had better change their products. Analyst Charles Golvin of Forrester Research cites as an example that pinch and zoom technology.

CHARLES GOLVIN: This is something everyone knows how to do now, but all of Apple's competitors will have to figure out a way to let consumers do that zoom but do it in a different way. And that's going to be disruptive to those customers.

KAUFMAN: Now, all of this assumes the jury's decision is upheld on appeal. Samsung is of course expected to challenge the verdict and the amount of damages. But that's not the only legal battle the company is facing here. Apple is seeking a permanent injunction that would prohibit Samsung from importing or selling many of its Android phones and tablets in the U.S. A hearing on that is now slated for mid-September. Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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