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US court reconsiders Apple vs Samsung patent verdict

BusinessNews
, 06 Dec 2012News
US court reconsiders Apple vs Samsung patent verdict

A US court will today review a ruling made in relation to a patent lawsuit between Apple and Samsung that saw the former awarded $1.05bn (£652m) in damages.

In August, a jury in California found that Samsung had improperly violated patented technology in the iPhone and iPad and ordered the company to pay damages to Apple.

The South Korean firm is now appealing for the verdict to be overturned or at least the sum reduced. Samsung also insists that a retrial is necessary; claiming that a jury foreman in the case, Velvin Hogan, "deliberately concealed information" regarding a lawsuit he had been involved in against his former employers, Seagate - a company which Samsung has a stake in.

"This is the rare case where juror misconduct requires new trial because the jury foreman withheld crucial information at the very moment it was most important that he reveal it," said Samsung's lawyers.

Samsung alleges that this "deliberate dishonestly" biased the verdict - a claim which Hogan himself has admitted to the BBC, saying that the ruling might have been different had he not been selected for the jury.

The South Korean giant has also accused Apple's lawyers of being aware of the case but keeping quiet "to gain a tactical advantage".

In contrast, Apple is calling on the judge to increase the amount of damages to $1.77 billion (£1.1 billion) and ban some of its rivals' handsets as its success depends on it being able to protect its patents and offer "distinctive products that stand apart from the masses".

Samsung responded by warning that customers face "fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices" if it faces a sales ban.

It is uncertain what the judge's decision will be but some legal experts have warned that it is very rare for US courts to overturn a jury verdict, although juror misconduct may qualify as mitigating circumstances - requiring a retrial.

In a further twist to the case, Apple's recent licensing agreement struck with rival HTC may have some bearing on the ruling. Last month, Apple and HTC announced that they had settled a long running patent dispute, with Apple licensing its patents to the Taiwanese firm in a 10-year deal.

The agreement is considered unprecedented as Apple has since said it has a "general policy against licensing its patents" to others.

Meanwhile, Samsung argues that the settlement shows Apple clearly doesn't mind its competitors violating patents, as long it receives money in return. Since Apple has already been awarded a large amount of money in damages, requesting a sales ban is not justified, the Korean firm says.

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