Damages Trial in Samsung v. Apple Patent Battle

The epic patent battle between Samsung Electronics and Apple continues to create headlines. A portion of Apple’s blockbuster jury award is in jeopardy after Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court Northern District of California determined that jurors erred in calculating damages.

Koh reduced the record $1.05 billion jury award by more than 40 percent and scheduled a new trial to reassess damages. This is a significant victory for Samsung, which will now get another day in court.

Previously, a California jury determined that Samsung infringed Apple’s patents for its iPhone and iPad devices. At the latest hearing, both sides disputed the amount of damages awarded. In this round, Samsung came out on top, at least on some products.

“The court has identified an impermissible legal theory on which the jury based its award and cannot reasonably calculate the amount of excess while effectuating the intent of the jury,” Koh said in her ruling. The specific issue involved the calculation of damages for the infringement of utility patents. “The jury’s award was apparently based on Samsung’s profits, which is an impermissible type of compensation for utility patent infringement,” Koh explained.  Although Samsung’s profits are a permissible type of compensation for a design patent, for a utility patent damages are to be measured by a reasonable royalty, or in some instances, by the patent owner’s lost profits.

As a result, the two sides must go back to drawing board on 14 of the products covered by the award. The damages on other products will stand. Since a brand new trial will be held, the final damages number is likely to be lower than the original award.

As this case highlights, many IP cases do not end with a jury verdict. Through post-trial motions and the appeals process, litigants can continue to challenge prior rulings and, in some cases, ultimately prevail.


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