Jury tells Samsung to pay big for copying iPhone design

In this file photo taken on September 02, 2015 people sit in front the logo of South Korean electronics giant Samsung ahead of the opening of the 55th IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) in Berlin. (AFP)
Updated 25 May 2018
0

Jury tells Samsung to pay big for copying iPhone design

SAN JOSE: A federal court jury on Thursday ordered Samsung to pay Apple $533 million for copying iPhone design features in a patent case dating back seven years.
Jurors tacked on an additional $5 million in damages for a pair of patented functions. The award appeared to be a bit of a victory for Apple, which had argued in court that design was essential to the iPhone.
The case was keenly watched as a precedent for whether design is so important that it could actually be considered the “article of design” even in a product as complex as a smartphone.
“We don’t think it is supported by the evidence,” Samsung attorney John Quinn told US District Court Judge Lucy Koh after the verdict was read in her courtroom in Silicon Valley.
“We have every concern about the determinations about the article of manufacture.”
Quinn declined an offer by the judge to send jurors back for further deliberation, saying Samsung would pursue post-trial motions to address its concerns about the verdict.
Juror Christine Calderon said the panel agreed that one of the design patents — the grid of colored icons — did represent the whole phone, while the other two at issue in the trial were seen as the display assembly that gave the iPhone its look.
She compared it to the Mona Lisa: “you use the paint, but it is not the article of manufacture.”
“I had to really think about it,” the 26-year-old Calderon, a technical writer, said after Koh dismissed the jury.
“We kind of felt like we ended up at a happy medium.”

$400 million damage award

The case had been sent back to the district court following a Supreme Court decision to revisit an earlier $400 million damage award.
Apple reasoned in court that design was so integral to the iPhone that it was the “article of manufacture” and worth all the money Samsung made by copying the features.
The lower figure sought by the South Korean consumer electronics titan would have involved treating the design features as components.
The jury had been asked to determine whether design features at issue in the case are worth all profit made from Samsung smartphones that copied them — or whether those features are worth just a fraction because they are components.
Apple argued in court that the iPhone was a “bet-the-company” project at Apple and that design is as much the “article of manufacture” as the device itself.
The three design patents in the case apply to the shape of the iPhone’s black screen with rounded edges and a bezel, and the rows of colorful icons displayed.
Samsung no longer sells the smartphone models at issue in the case.
Two utility patents also involved apply to “bounce-back” and “tap-to-zoom” functions.
An original trial finding that Samsung violated Apple patents preceded a lengthy appellate dueling over whether design features such as rounded edges are worth all the money made from a phone.

Forfeiture of all profits

Samsung challenged the legal precedent that requires the forfeiture of all profits from a product, even if only a single design patent has been infringed.
The US Supreme Court in 2016 overturned the penalty imposed on the South Korean consumer electronics giant.
Justices ruled that Samsung should not be required to forfeit the entire profits from its smartphones for infringement on design components, sending the case back to a lower court.
“Today’s decision flies in the face of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in favor of Samsung on the scope of design patent damages,” the South Korean company said in response to an AFP inquiry.
“We will consider all options to obtain an outcome that does not hinder creativity and fair competition for all companies and consumers.”
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
The key question of the value of design patents rallied Samsung supporters in the tech sector, and Apple backers in the creative and design communities.
Samsung won the backing of major Silicon Valley and other IT sector giants, including Google, Facebook, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, claiming a strict ruling on design infringement could lead to a surge in litigation.
Apple was supported by big names in fashion and manufacturing. Design professionals, researchers and academics, citing precedents like Coca-Cola’s iconic soda bottle.
The case is one element of a $548 million penalty — knocked down from an original $1 billion jury award — Samsung was ordered to pay for copying iPhone patents.


‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

Updated 26 May 2019
0

‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

  • This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei
  • Another critical partner, ARM Holdings, said it was complying with the US restrictions

BEIJING: While Huawei’s founder brushes aside a US ban against his company, the telecom giant’s employees have been less sanguine, confessing fears for their future in online chat rooms.
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei declared this week the company has a hoard of microchips and the ability to make its own in order to withstand a potentially crippling US ban on using American components and software in its products.
“If you really want to know what’s going on with us, you can visit our Xinsheng Community,” Ren told Chinese media, alluding to Huawei’s internal forum partially open to viewers outside the company.
But a peek into Xinsheng shows his words have not reassured everyone within the Shenzhen-based company.
“During difficult times, what should we do as individuals?” posted an employee under the handle Xiao Feng on Thursday.
“At home reduce your debts and maintain enough cash,” Xiao Feng wrote.
“Make a plan for your financial assets and don’t be overly optimistic about your remuneration and income.”
This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei as a result of the ban.
Another critical partner, ARM Holdings — a British designer of semiconductors owned by Japanese group Softbank — said it was complying with the US restrictions.
“On its own Huawei can’t resolve this problem, we need to seek support from government policy,” one unnamed employee wrote last week, in a post that received dozens of likes and replies.
The employee outlined a plan for China to block off its smartphone market from all American components much in the same way Beijing fostered its Internet tech giants behind a “Great Firewall” that keeps out Google, Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other foreign companies.
“Our domestic market is big enough, we can use this opportunity to build up domestic suppliers and our ecosystem,” the employee wrote.
For his part, Ren advocated the opposite response in his interview with Chinese media.
“We should not promote populism; populism is detrimental to the country,” he said, noting that his family uses Apple products.
Other employees strategized ways to circumvent the US ban.
One advocated turning to Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao to buy the needed components. Another dangled the prospect of setting up dozens of new companies to make purchases from US suppliers.
Many denounced the US and proposed China ban McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and all-American movies and TV shows.
“First time posting under my real name: we must do our jobs well, advance and retreat with our company,” said an employee named Xu Jin.
The tech ban caps months of US effort to isolate Huawei, whose equipment Washington fears could be used as a Trojan horse by Chinese intelligence services.
Still, last week Trump indicated he was willing to include a fix for Huawei in a trade deal that the two economic giants have struggled to seal and US officials issued a 90-day reprieve on the ban.
In Xinsheng, an employee with the handle Youxin lamented: “I want to advance and retreat alongside the company, but then my boss told me to pack up and go,” followed by two sad-face emoticons.