Samsung to Pay Apple $548M, but the Patent Fight Goes On

Samsung has agreed to pay Apple US$548 million in their years-long mobile device patent infringement fight. That agreement, however, comes with a catch: Samsung wants the right to take back its money depending on the outcome of future related court actions.

Samsung agrees to pay Apple $548M partial settlement in patent infringement fightSamsung agrees to pay Apple $548M partial settlement in patent infringement fight

The partial judgement comes from Apple's landslide legal win in 2011 where a jury found that Samsung infringed on a long list of iPhone and iPad-related patents, while Apple didn't infringe on any of Samsung's. Apple was awarded over $900,000 in damages but so far hasn't been able to collect any money from Samsung thanks to the ongoing appeal process.

Apple filed a motion this summer asking the court to force Samsung to pay the $548 million partial judgement, and Samsung said it wouldn't pay anything calling Apple's pinch to zoom patent invalid.

With the year wrapping up, Samsung has done an about face and said it will pay the partial judgement, but with caveats that will keep this case dragging on. Samsung's filing states,

Samsung continues to reserve all rights to obtain reimbursement from Apple and/or payment by Apple of all amounts required to be paid as taxes. [...] Samsung further reserves all rights to reclaim or obtain reimbursement of any judgment amounts paid by Samsung to any entity in the event the partial judgment is reversed, modified, vacated or set aside on appeal or otherwise, including as a result of any proceedings before the USPTO addressing the patents at issue or as a result of any petition for writ of certiorari filed with the Supreme Court. Samsung notes that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has issued a final decision of invalidity on the '915 Patent, and Apple filed a notice of appeal to the Federal Circuit in the USPTO last week.

Apple, of course, is disputing Samsing's "asserted rights to reimbursement."

On the surface, Samsung's concession to pay the partial judgement looks like a win for Apple. It may be, but any court ruling that lets Samsung demand its money back will leave Apple with egg on its face. Apple's legal win already feels like a hollow victory because it hasn't been able to stop Samsung from selling devices it sees as infringing; having to give back the partial judgement would be like getting a black eye.

Even worse, there's still a possibility Apple and Samsung could have to revisit the damages issue again. Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents said, "Samsung announced in the summer that it would file a petition for writ of certiorari (request for Supreme Court review) concerning design patent damages. If the top U.S. court agreed to hear that matter and agreed with what will likely be a broad industry coalition, there would have to be a retrial."

Samsung has agreed to pay the partial judgement by December 14. While that sounds like we're getting close to the end of this case, it's likely we haven't even hit the beginning of the end yet. Samsung is a master at drawing out patent cases, and it looks like they're still at it.

In the end, Samsung looks like the real winner. The company has been able to continue making its iPhone-like smartphones and tablets, and Apple has been pretty ineffectual at stopping them.