SAN JOSE — A jury decided Friday that Samsung must pay Apple $119.6 million for patent infringement, a fraction of the nearly $2.2 billion the Cupertino-based company sought in the latest round of the protracted patent battle.
Returning on their fourth day of deliberations, a federal jury of four women and four men also awarded $158,400 to Samsung for its counterclaims of patent infringement.
Samsung already owes Apple $930 million from previous trials. With its latest award, Apple has added to its damages heap but fallen far short of securing another billion-dollar verdict. Samsung asked for only about $6 million in damages for the two patents it asserted, a strategy aimed at downplaying the value of patents that represent narrow features of devices with dozens of components.
The companies have spent the past month feuding in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh over the technology that powers their popular smartphones and tablets. Friday’s award will not be finalized until next week because of an error on the jury form. However, it is not expected to change the final tally much.
Meanwhile, Apple used the verdict to drive home familiar themes.
“Today’s ruling reinforces what courts around the world have already found: that Samsung willfully stole our ideas and copied our products,” an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement.
“We are fighting to defend the hard work that goes into beloved products like the iPhone, which our employees devote their lives to designing and delivering for our customers.”
But Brian Love, an assistant professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said the result must have come as a disappointment.
“Though this verdict is large by normal standards, it is hard to view this outcome as much of a victory for Apple,” Love wrote in an email. “This amount is less than 10 percent of the amount Apple requested and probably doesn’t surpass by too much the amount Apple spent litigating this case.”
Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company’s lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan had sought to portray the case as a desperate bid by Apple to correct its sliding market share and an indirect strike against rival Google Inc.
After the verdict was read, lawyers for Apple determined that the jury failed to award a reasonable royalty for one infringing Samsung device. Jurors will return Monday to address the discrepancy.
All but one of the patents asserted by Apple targeted features in Google’s Android operating system, thrusting the Mountain View-based company front and center in the trial.
Samsung lawyers introduced an internal Apple memo that referenced a directive from Steve Jobs, Apple’s late CEO, to embark on a “holy war with Google.” Apple brought out evidence during its rebuttal case that Google agreed to indemnify Samsung for two of the patents in the case: U.S. Patent Nos. 6,847,959, which addresses search software, and 7,761,414, which addresses the “background sync” feature.
The jury did not find Samsung had infringed either patent.
Love said the search giant’s presence changed the dynamics of the battle.
“With Google directly involved in developing the allegedly infringing software, Apple’s claims that Samsung blatantly copied the iPhone never rang true,” he said.
Jurors sided with Apple that Samsung violated its patents for “quick links” that flag phone numbers in content and the slide-to-unlock gesture, but they did not find the infringement was willful. Koh had already ruled that Samsung infringed another Apple patent for autocorrect software.
Samsung’s patents covered technology for video calls and photo albums. Jurors found Apple violated the latter patent.
Familiar faces led the charge as Apple and Samsung embarked on their third San Jose jury trial in two years. As in the original trial in 2012, Morrison & Foerster ran Apple’s offensive case, and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr defended the company against Samsung’s claims. Quinn Emanuel represented Samsung once again.
The Apple team’s next task will be to persuade Koh to enter a permanent injunction. It may be a tall order, Love noted. Koh has twice rejected Apple’s bid for a sales ban against Samsung. “To the extent it wasn’t already apparent, this verdict should suggest to Apple that litigation isn’t a very effective means to gain a competitive advantage over Android,” Love said.
Contact the reporter at email@example.com.