* Samsung infringement ruled not willful by U.S. court
* Willful finding would have tripled $1 billion penalty
* Motions for new trial also overruled by U.S. judge
By Miyoung Kim and Sakthi Prasad
Jan 30 South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co
did not willfully infringe on some of Apple Inc's
patents, a U.S. federal court has ruled, foiling
Apple's attempt to ratchet up the $1.05 billion in damages it
was awarded last August by a U.S. jury.
The ruling removes a dark cloud hanging over Samsung, which,
if the decision had gone the other way, could have been forced
to pay triple the original judgment, or more than $3 billion in
the worst-case scenario for Samsung's balance sheet, according
to analysts and patent experts.
As it stands, Samsung is forging ahead of its arch rival in
the smartphone market that Apple virtually created with its
first iPhone in 2007. In December, the same U.S. court denied
Apple's request for a permanent injunction against Samsung's
Tuesday's ruling overrules the jury's finding that Samsung
acted "willfully" when it violated several of Apple's patents, a
finding that could have formed the basis to triple the damages
owed by Samsung.
"To the extent that Apple does address lost downstream
sales, Apple discusses only Samsung's gains and makes no attempt
to identify any specific losses Apple has suffered," U.S.
District Court Judge Lucy Koh wrote in her ruling.
Koh said the court could not enhance the damages "given that
Apple has not clearly shown how it has in fact been
undercompensated for the losses it has suffered due to Samsung's
dilution of its trade dress," or, the look and feel of its
She said the jury, which had examined the case earlier and
found that Samsung had copied critical features of the iPhone
and iPad, had ample opportunity to compensate Apple for
Samsung's use of its product designs.
Koh also denied requests from both Samsung and Apple for a
new trial. Samsung had said a major patent verdict in favor of
Apple should be overturned and Apple had sought a new trial to
overturn some of the jury's findings and to try other issues on
which the jury failed to rule.
The judge also denied Apple's motion for judgment that
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes a patent that relates to its
iPad design. The jury earlier exonerated Samsung on the patent
used to ban Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales.
Apple and Samsung are going toe-to-toe in a patent dispute
that mirrors the struggle for industry supremacy between the two
companies, which together control around half of worldwide
smartphone sales that grew 43 percent in 2012 to 700 million
units worth more than $200 billion.
Samsung shipped 213 million smartphones to take 30 percent
of the market in 2012, while Apple sold 135.8 million iPhones
with 19.4 percent of the market, according to research firm
Since Apple first took Samsung to the court in early 2011,
Apple has been more successful in its U.S. litigation campaign,
winning the $1.05 billion damage award and a pre-trial sales ban
on some Samsung products.
Samsung has since fought back and scored some favourable
rulings, including Tuesday's ruling that prevents any higher
The ruling also comes as investors worry Apple is losing its
dominance in consumer electronics after it missed Wall Street
revenue forecasts for the third consecutive quarter last week on
weaker-than-expected iPhone sales.
By comparison, Samsung, once seen as quick to copy the ideas
of others, now sets the pace in innovation and widened its lead
over Apple on the back of aggressive marketing of its wide
product range last year.
Shares in Samsung, the world's top smartphone maker by units
shipped, closed up 2.2 percent on Wednesday in Seoul, beating a
0.4 percent gain in the wider market.
The case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of California is Apple Inc. vs. Samsung Electronics Co
Ltd et al, 11-1846.