Apple v. Samsung: a 7-year battle with no real winner

July 3, 2018


On Wednesday 27th June 2018, the never-ending patent battle between Apple and Samsung finally came to an end. The story begins in 2011 when Apple sued Samsung, alleging the company was infringing iPhone and iPad patents. One year later, the court gave a first ruling in favour of Apple. Although it recognized that several software and hardware features had been taken from Apple products, the amount of damages Samsung would have to pay was not decided yet… and it took seven years for the parties to agree and finally settle their battle.

When the court first recognized Samsung had infringed Apple’s patents, they awarded Apple more than $1 billion to compensate the infringement. Of course, Samsung contested the verdict and argued it should only pay $28 million for copying certain patented features. However, according to Apple, Samsung had actually copied the whole design of its products. Apple convinced the court, who awarded the company $450 million. Yet, the litigation was not to end already. In 2016, the amount of damages was contested again and lowered to $399 million. Samsung paid the penalty but it was still not enough for Apple and in May 2018, Samsung was required to make a $140 million additional payment.

After seven years, this unprecedented patent battle ended last Wednesday. Apple and Samsung finally found an agreement and settled their litigation. The terms of this settlement were not disclosed but it’s likely that Apple asked Samsung to make another additional payment.

Briffa comment

Apple is known for being a model of innovation. Since its very beginning, it has been a leader on the high-tech market. It imagined the first personal computer, it initiated the “smartphone revolution” by launching its first iPhone, it created many technical features such as the “touch ID” and the design of its products distinguishes from this of its rivals.

Therefore, as Apple said it itself, its fight against Samsung was about more than money, it was about protecting “hard work and innovation”. However, although Apple seems to have won the battle, there is no real winner. The litigation lasted seven years, which implies tremendous legal fees, and Samsung managed to avoid an injunction to stop selling its smartphones over the US market.

Furthermore, we mostly heard about Samsung battle but Apple is involved in many other litigations. The company actually filed 398 petitions to challenge competitors’ patents. Apple is also accused of infringing VirnetX’s patents. Therefore, Apple is done with a seven-years-long litigation but is leading a continuous battle against all its other competitors, which is not likely to end soon!

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