After nearly five years of duking in out in court, Samsung on Thursday agreed to pay Apple a $548 million settlement as soon as this week. In case you don’t remember, legal proceedings began back in 2011 when Apple accused Samsung of essentially ripping off the iPhone with their line of Galaxy smartphones. Now, just four months shy of the fifth anniversary of the original complaint, Apple is finally going to see some cash – for the time being.
In a joint case settlement agreement issued last week, it was announced that Samsung will pay $548 million in damages to Apple within ten days of being invoiced. This amount is just a little more than half of the over $1 billion that a judge ruled Samsung pay Apple back in 2012, as it only covers the technology infringements that the 2012 ruling found was owed to Apple. An additional $382 million will be paid at a later date if Apple can successfully prove that Samsung also copied their devices packaging, but that ruling won’t come until sometime next year.
The decision to pay up (for now) comes on the heels of a recent ruling by the Court of Appeals which denied Samsung’s challenge that Apple can ask for payment on invalid patents. For example, one of the IP’s Apple initially accused Samsung of infringing on is pinch-to-zoom feature. Back in 2013, the US Patent Office declared pinch-to-zoom to be non-patentable, which would make patent infringement an impossibility. This particular outcome had possibly the greatest impact on the amount of damages to be paid to Apple, and Apple has subsequently decided to appeal the decision to set aside the pinch-to-zoom patent (surprise, surprise). Again, you can see that for both sides, the battle is far from over.
What is interesting to me is that the two smartphone powerhouses actually rely on each other more than the general public might think. Most namely, Samsung has long been a supplier of processors and screens for Apple and will continue to work as a supply partner throughout the ongoing court battles. And as both companies have made clear, this settlement is by no means the last we’ll hear of this case. Samsung even included a phrase in the filing that made that point perfectly clear, saying that it "reserves all rights to reclaim or obtain reimbursement of any judgment amounts paid by [the company] to any entity in the event the partial judgment is reversed, modified, vacated or set aside on appeal or otherwise." Apple, of course, immediately rejected the notion that Samsung had any right to reimbursement. Samsung further added that they are "disappointed that the court has agreed to proceed with Apple's grossly exaggerated damages claims regardless of whether the patents are valid. While we've agreed to pay Apple, we remain confident that our products do not infringe on Apple's design patents, and we will continue to take all appropriate measures within the legal system to protect our products and our intellectual property.”
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