It might be less than a fourth of the hefty sum it had to pay Apple last year, but even a $120 million reprieve is a big break for Samsung. But more than not having to pay that amount, the US Appeals Court ruled that Samsung didn’t infringe on one of Apple’s patents that Cupertino sued it for nearly 2 years ago. To add insult to injury, at least for Apple, the court also declared that the other two patents in the lawsuit were, in fact, invalid. If that weren’t enough, it also said that it was Apple who was infringing on one of Samsung’s patents.
Apple and Samsung have been suing and countersuing each other over patents for years now. In 2014, Apple gained an upper hand when a court ruled that Samsung infringed on at least three Apple patents. One of those was Patent ‘647 or the “Quick Links” patent. This feature would turn, for example, phone numbers displayed on a screen into links that users can tap on to, say, call that number or save it to their phonebook. According to a unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit, Samsung did not infringe on this.
Of the other two patents that remained in the original case, the court held that they were obvious and should have never been granted in the first place. These patents are the notorious “slide to unlock” Patent ‘721 and Patent ‘449 for camera and folder organization. Many experts, both in the tech and legal fields, have time and again raised the specter of doubt on several of the patents that Apple have used against Samsung.
Naturally, Samsung praises the court’s decision and have claimed it as a victory for consumer choice. Apple has yet to comment on the ruling but it would nonetheless be a decisive blow on some of the patents that it continually waves around to fend off rivals. The development in the case also reinforces the growing sentiment, even among the likes of Apple and Samsung, that patent lawsuits are becoming more wasteful than they are worth.