Most Read Contributor in South Africa, September 2016
Samsung has been ordered to pay Apple about US$1bn in damages
for infringing patents, highlighting the enormous value of
intellectual property protection laws. A US jury found a number of
patents that are owned by Apple and that relate to the technology
used in the iPod and iPad products and their appearances were
valid. It held that Samsung had infringed these patents in its
Galaxy smartphones and its Galaxy 10 tablet, and that Samsung's
infringement had been "wilful".
And it dismissed Samsung's counterclaim that Apple had
infringed various patents Samsung owns.
The patents that had been infringed covered various features of
Apple's products, including the so-called "bounce-back
response", which makes lists jump back; the
"pinch-to-zoom" feature, which the user uses to magnify
images; the feature that allows users to zoom into text by tapping
a finger; and the appearance of the iPhone (including the system of
displaying text and icons), which is protected by design
The two companies reacted predictably. Samsung said the judgment
would lead to "fewer choices, less innovation and potentially
higher prices", adding that it was "unfortunate that
patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over
rectangles with rounded corners".
Apple, on the other hand, praised the court "for finding
Samsung's behaviour wilful and for sending a loud and clear
message that stealing isn't right".
From a legal point of view, the ruling is significant. On
September 20, the judge will decide whether to issue a sales
injunction or an order requiring Samsung to pay licence fees to
At this hearing, the judge will also decide whether to confirm
the damages award or increase it. Samsung has already made it clear
that, whatever happens, an appeal will be lodged.
The US case is part of litigation that has been going on around
the world. Interestingly, a short while back a court in South Korea
dismissed Apple's patent infringement claims against Samsung,
with the exception of the claim relating to the
"bounce-back" feature. It also held that a number of
Apple's patents were invalid, having been anticipated by
Lastly, it held that Apple had in fact infringed two of
The commercial implications of the US judgment are equally
significant. The market for smartphones and tablets is huge, and
Apple and Samsung account for more than half of all sales. Samsung
sold 50m smartphones in the quarter to June 2012, while Apple sold
just 26m units over the same period. So if Samsung is barred from
selling its products in the US, it will be an enormous boon to
Apple and a very large blow to Samsung. To complicate matters
further, Apple is a major customer of Samsung's, buying a large
number of its chips from the South Koreans.
It's also worth noting that Samsung's products are
powered by Google's Android, a system that is used by other
smartphone manufacturers, too.
Some commentators have described Apple's attack on Samsung
as a "proxy war" against Google, and predicted that Apple
will go after Google next.
This case highlights the importance of patent and other
intellectual property rights when bringing new products to market.
For many technology companies, intellectual property rights and
especially patentsform the basis of the business, and these
companies often have huge patent portfolios that are in themselves
worth vast sums.
Patenting has become big business and one ignores it at
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
It has always been the practice of the Industrial Property Institute of Mozambique to prohibit the refiling of trade marks that have been finally refused, which has posed a serious obstacle to trade mark applicants...
A recent Australian decision on keyword usage of a registered trade mark is in line with decisions in many other countries, including South Africa.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).