Samsung faces $2.5bn damages bill if it loses Apple court case
SAMSUNG could be hit with a damages bill of $2.5bn if rival Apple can prove that the Korean giant copied its iPhone and iPad technology.
The two tech giants will clash in court in California today in what has been labelled “the patent trial of the century”. After more than a year of the two companies trading accusations and engaging in skirmishes in British, Australian and German courts, a nine-person jury will decide whether Samsung “slavishly” copied Apple’s sleek designs. They will also be asked to decide whether Apple unlawfully used Samsung’s 3G technology.
The trial is the biggest so far in the patent wars that surround the boom in sales of smartphones and tablet computers. Apple, which can lay claim to sparking this mobile internet revolution with the iPhone and iPad, believes that Samsung and other manufacturers of devices that run Google’s Android operating system owe it a massive debt.
Samsung has emerged as Apple’s strongest rival thanks to handsets such as the Galaxy SIII, but could now face a large compensation bill, a heavy blow to its reputation and a ban in the US on sales of some of its best-selling products.
Documents released ahead of the trial show that Apple plans to turn Samsung’s own words against it. “Samsung’s documents show the similarity of Samsung’s products is no accident or, as Samsung would have it, a 'natural evolution’,” Apple’s lawyers claim.
“Rather, it results from Samsung’s deliberate plan to free-ride on the iPhone’s and iPad’s extraordinary success by copying their iconic designs and intuitive user interface. Apple will rely on Samsung’s own documents, which tell an unambiguous story.”
The documents include communications from Google, which told Samsung its tablets looked “too similar” to the iPad. The discovery process also turned up an assessment of Samsung’s designs by consultants who said the Galaxy S, the first of the firm’s flagship smartphone line, introduced in 2010, “looked like it copied the iPhone too much”. “All you have to do is cover the Samsung logo and it’s difficult to find anything different from the iPhone,” they said.
Samsung’s army of lawyers will counter-claim that it had been working on designs that could be seen as similar to the iPhone as long ago as 2006, before Apple introduced its revolutionary device. They will also suggest that the basic hardware and software features of competing smartphones and tablets mean similarities in appearance are inevitable.
Samsung will also suggest Apple’s iPhone design was not particularly original in the first place. Lawyers will cite Apple design documents to claim that its look was lifted from Sony. One previously unseen prototype even has a “Jony” logo, in apparent reference to Sony and Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief.