Court Overturns Apple's $120M Win in Second Samsung Patent Fight

Samsung was handed a big win in its second major patent infringement fight against Apple on Friday when the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a US$119.6 million damages ruling. A lower court ruling said Samsung's mobile devices infringed on Apple's quick links, slide-to-unlock, and autocorrect patents—a ruling the Appeals Court felt was off base.

Appeals Court overturns Apple's win in second Samsung patent infringement caseAppeals Court overturns Apple's win in second Samsung patent infringement case

The Appeals Court found Samsung wasn't infringing on the quick links patent, and declared the slide-to-unlock and autocorrect patents invalid, according to Reuters. The patents in question included:

  • 5,946,647 - System and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data
  • 8,046,721 - Unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image
  • 8,074,172 - Method, system, and graphical user interface for providing word recommendations

This was the second big U.S. infringement case between the two companies. A Federal jury ruled in 2014 mostly in Apple's favor and awarded the iPhone and iPad maker $119.6 million in damages for Samsung's infringement on multiple patents. The same jury found that Apple infringed on one of Samsung's patents and awarded the electronics maker $158,400 in damages.

This case was similar to a 2012 patent infringement trial where a jury found Samsung infringed on a long list of Apple's patents and that Apple didn't infringe on any of Samsung's. Apple was awarded $1.1 billion in damages, but that was later lowered to $980 million.

Samsung held out on paying Apple but finally agreed to hand over $548.2 million last December on the condition it gets that back, plus interest, should the courts overturn the original ruling. Samsung is currently waiting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will hear its appeal.

Samsung's tactics have rendered Apple's court room wins as mostly symbolic because it hasn't been blocked from selling devices ruled as infringing. Apple did finally win a permanent injunction in January blocking Samsung from selling specific mobile devices in the U.S, but that will have little impact because most of those aren't available any more.

That injunction was part of the case where Samsung just won its appeal, and now that two of the patents in that case have been ruled invalid it has even less value. Apple's consolation is that it did win the injunction, which is something it might be able to note in future patent infringement cases.

In the end it looks like Samsung's long time legal tactics will prevail: drag the litigation out as long as possible so any wins its opponents get are hollow, and don't worry about those silly patents. They just get in the way.