Samsung Denies Copying Apple, Seeks to Toss $930 Million Award

iPhone 5c and Galaxy S5
Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, contends that Apple’s design patents covered little more than rounded corners or logical ways of making a phone. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Samsung Electronics Co. urged a U.S. appeals court to toss a $930 million verdict won by Apple Inc., saying the South Korean company didn’t copy the iPhone’s design and unique look and arguing that the damage award was too high.

“They awarded Samsung’s total profit for all of these phones -- this is absurd,” Kathleen Sullivan, representing Samsung, told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington today. “It’s like awarding the profit of an entire car because of infringement of the design of the cupholder.”

Apple and Samsung have dropped most of their legal battles -- this and a second trial that’s also before the appeals court are all that remain of a fight across four continents. This verdict is the largest awarded in any of the so-called smartphone wars, and an appeals court decision determining the proper damages could help foster an eventual settlement.

Cupertino, California-based Apple has said it revolutionized a stagnant smartphone market when it introduced the iPhone in 2007, only to see a rash of copycats. Within months of the iPhone’s introduction, Samsung was taking the phone apart to see what made it special, Apple lawyer William Lee of WilmerHale told the three-judge panel.

“After two years, their market share was plummeting,” Lee said. “In three months, they came up with something that was identical” to the iPhone.

Older Models

Much of the jury verdict -- and Samsung’s appeal -- focused on the look of Samsung’s older models and the value of Apple’s designs. Of the total award, $399 million was based on findings that Samsung had copied three patented designs for the shape, corners, translucent screen and colorful icon; another $382 million was for the trademarked look. The remaining $149 million was for infringement of three other patents.

Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, contends that Apple’s design patents covered little more than rounded corners or logical ways of making a phone. Even if the patents were infringed, Sullivan said, the damage award was too high.

The court isn’t expected to rule for several months.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 14-1335, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 11cv1846, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose).

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