The Apple vs Samsung iPhone-copying lawsuit is finally over

Chris Davies - Jun 27, 2018, 2:08 pm CDT
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The Apple vs Samsung iPhone-copying lawsuit is finally over

The Apple vs Samsung legal battle that has spanned seven years and numerous courtroom showdowns is finally over. The two companies – which had each claimed and counter-claimed that the other had infringed on design patents with their smartphones and tablets – agreed to drop the case, according to a newly-filed document today.

That document, filed with the Northern District Court of California, confirmed that the Apple and Samsung would “settle their remaining claims and counterclaims in this matter.” However, it did not specify the exact terms of the settlement made. Back in May, Samsung was ordered by the jury to pay Apple $538m in damages.

“Plaintiff Apple Inc. and Defendants Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., and Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC would like to inform the Court that they have agreed to drop and settle their remaining claims and counterclaims in this matter.

IT IS HEREBY STIPULATED AND AGREED, by and between the parties and subject to the approval of the Court, that pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 41(a) and 41(c), all remaining claims and counterclaims in this action are hereby dismissed with prejudice, to the extent such are still pending, and all parties shall bear their own attorneys’ fees and costs”

Even that was a twist. Apple had originally been granted more than $1bn in damages from its South Korean nemesis, having convinced the courts in a 2012 ruling that Samsung had infringed on its distinctive iPhone design with various Galaxy handsets. That began a long series of appeals and retrials.

Key to the argument has been just what the damages should be based on. Apple’s argument was that Samsung’s penalty should be calculated on the entire cost of the iPhone. Unsurprisingly, Samsung countered that it should only pay damages on the portion of the iPhone design that it was found to have infringed on.

Looking back at the phones that actually started this whole saga, it’s telling just how far from that point we’ve come. The case began with the iPhone 3GS and the Galaxy S i9000: since then, both Apple and Samsung have completely reinvented their software and hardware styling.

The ongoing court battles have always felt a little awkward, given Apple and Samsung’s business relationship in the iPhone supply chain. At the same time as the Cupertino firm’s legal team was accusing Samsung Electronics of blatantly stealing its designs, it was also spending huge amounts on Samsung batteries, displays, memory, and more for multiple generations of iPhone.

Indeed in parallel with the court case – and the evolving iPhone – Apple has also been working to extricate itself from its dependence on Samsung’s components. That has been a mixed bag in terms of success, mind. Efforts to offset Samsung’s position as a key display provider, for example, have been stymied by rivals in the segment struggling to hit the panel quality and yield numbers that Apple demands.

For now, neither company seems likely to comment publicly on the settlement, but it’s been enough to satisfy the courts. After the filing, “all remaining claims and counterclaims in this case are hereby dismissed with prejudice, to the extent such are still pending, and all parties shall bear their own attorneys’ fees and costs,” Justice Lucy Koh wrote in her order today.


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