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Apple vs Samsung patent war reaches critical point

Tech giants Apple and Samsung are back in court, fighting over patents and other "secret ingredients" that make their smartphones stand out in the crowd.

This Thursday, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. will hear arguments through which Samsung will try to invalidate a jury verdict and cancel out more than $1 billion (£640 million) in damages for violating Apple's patents.

Back in 2012, a US jury awarded Apple $930 million (£595 million) in damages after it found that Samsung copied key features from Apple’s iPad and iPhone devices.

If the appeals court, which reviews patent cases around the US, rules in favour of Apple, it would justify the company’s claims that Samsung has been stealing its technology.

On the other hand, if the court overturns the 2012 sentence and finds Samsung not guilty, it would finally put an end to the Samsung vs. Apple patent wars.

Even though the devices linked to this case are fairly old (iPhone 4 for example), analysts claim that this verdict is still of great importance.

"Many of the legal issues in the case aren't all that new, but the fact there is $1 billion - and possibly the way smartphones are designed - at stake makes it an important case," said Mark Lemley, director of Stanford's law, science and technology programmes.

Samsung and Apple have been at war through the courts since April 2011, and in 2013, the Silicon Valley tech giant even tried to ban Samsung from selling its products in the US.