In the latest development of the Apple vs. Samsung legal case, Samsung is arguing that it should only have to pay for individual components that directly contravene Apple’s patents, rather than a higher fee for the entirety of a device.
If you’d forgotten that Apple and Samsung were still having a massive legal altercation, then you’re easily forgiven. The two tech giants have been feuding since the early days of smartphone tech with the original 2011 lawsuit still continuing to this day — but it may finally drawing to a close, as the jury is to deliberate on Monday and try to come to a verdict. The massive coffers on either side of the conflict have paid for the litigation to go on with appeal after appeal. Samsung’s last appeal over the legality of a ruling in Apple’s favor was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that essentially now leaves Samsung on Apple’s hook.
Don’t assume the matter is over just because the courts have ruled in Apple’s favor, however. While the courts said that Samsung did infringe on Apple’s patents, the arguments as to how Samsung’s components infringed, and how much Samsung should have to pay Apple, have only just begun. Traditionally, damages in this sort of case are paid based on the profits of the “article of manufacture” — or the product that was built using the violated patents. Apple is arguing that the entire smartphone counts as the manufactured article, while Samsung holds that it’s the individual components that count as the finished article.
This might seem like an unnecessary argument, but the difference between the two standpoints is significant. How significant? If Apple is correct, it calculates that damages of over $1 billion are owed. But if Samsung’s argument holds true, then damages for the components’ profits would amount to only $28 million. And while those numbers are by each company’s own calculations, it’s fair to assume the court’s number might not be far off.
Samsung has brought in an expert witness, Sam Lucente, to argue the point, and he pointed out that since the components could be replaced by third-party components and still work, you could not classify the phone as the manufactured article — a point made to work with the court’s own four-step classification on how to define a manufactured article.
With this lawsuit spanning seven years already — not including the initial steps taken by Apple to resolve the matter out of court in 2010 — and with arguments over the specifics still ongoing, to say this case has been a long one would be something of an understatement. But with closing arguments completed on Friday, we’re closer than ever to a conclusion — at least to this chapter. After deliberations on Monday, we could hear a verdict as soon as Tuesday. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as to how it all plays out in the courtroom.
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