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Federal court upholds part of Apple's patent case against Samsung

On May 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit handed down a mixed verdict in the latest installment of Apple Inc.'s epic intellectual property battle with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. The ruling upheld Apple's patent infringement win against Samsung, but it tossed out a finding that the iPhone's most basic features could be trademarked. Because of the decision, up to 40 percent of a $930 million verdict previously awarded to the California-based smartphone giant must be reconsidered.

In 2012, a San Jose jury found that Samsung devices had infringed on Apple's smartphone patents by copying the iPhone's simple design, including its shape, color and rounded corners, and ordered Samsung to pay $930 million in damages. Samsung appealed the decision, claiming that the award was excessive and that it was wrong to protect the iPhone's basic features. In its recent decision, the federal appellate court upheld the original patent violations, including the one that protects the iPhone's shape and color, but it threw out Apple's "trade dress" claims, which protect the rounded corners and general functional elements. The San Jose court has been ordered to reconsider the $382 million portion of the verdict awarded for those protections.

Since the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs, who was known for fiercely protecting his company's proprietary designs, Apple and Samsung have dropped most of their legal battles against each other. However, a 2014 patent case involving a $120 million award in Apple's favor remains before the same appeals court.

Any company that believes it has been the victim of patent infringement may wish to consult with an attorney. Depending on the available proof, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the perpetrating parties seeking damages.

Soure: Reuters, "Apple gets partial win on appeal in Samsung patent case,"Andrew Chung and Julia Love, May 18, 2015

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