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Court Cases

Samsung-Apple patent trial yields mixed verdict

A US jury has ordered Samsung to pay almost $120 million in compensation to Apple, ruling that the South Korean company had infringed on two Apple patents. But this latest ruling fell well short of Apple's hopes.

The latest chapter in some three years of litigation around the world between Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd ended on Friday in a California courtroom. The federal jury in San Jose ordered that Samsung pay $119.6 million (86.22 million euros) in damages for violating two Apple patents.

Apple had sought $2.2 billion in damages for the violation of five patents during the trial. The ruling was also far smaller than a case in the same courtroom two years ago, when jurors ordered Samsung to pay Apple $930 million for using the company's technology in older generation devices. That 2012 verdict is under appeal from Samsung.

Analysts following the protracted legal battles between the tech giants billed the outcome as a boon for Samsung.

"Though this verdict is large by normal standards, it is hard to view this outcome as much of a victory for Apple," Brian Love, assistant professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, said of the verdict. "This amount is less than 10 percent of the amount Apple requested, and probably doesn't surpass by too much the amount Apple spent litigating this case."

The jury in Judge Lucy Koh's courtroom on Friday also supported a counter-claim from Samsung, which had argued that two of its patents were unfairly used by Apple, and ordered the iPhone maker to pay its Korean rivals $158,400 in damages. Jurors began their deliberations on April 29.

Judge Koh should now decide on whether to grant Apple's other desire from the case, a ban on sales of several Samsung phones - including the Galaxy S III - in the US. Reuters news agency quoted Rutgers Law School professor Michael Carrier as saying such an injunction seemed "extremely unlikely" based on the jurors' findings.

The Android elephant in the courtroom

Apple's legal team had argued that key features on Samsung phones, such as slide-to-unlock technology and automatic word correction, were only possible thanks to the Californian company's inventions. Samsung, meanwhile, countered that most of Apple's complaints concerned the Android operating system developed by Google, which Samsung phones use.

Several Google representatives were called as witnesses by Samsung, but the company itself was not involved in the trial. More than 70 percent of smartphones run on Android software, which Google provides to companies such as Samsung for free. The Android software was first launched when Google's CEO at the time, Eric Schmidt, was an Apple board member. The launch infuriated Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who considered the product an Apple imitation and helped launch the legal battle against the rival software.

The world's top two smartphone manufacturers have been locked in legal disputes for three years on multiple continents. The litigation coincided with Samsung's rise to become market leader in the smartphone sector, now with 31 percent market share to Apple's 15 percent.

msh/se (AFP, AP, Reuters)