Apple v. Samsung trial redux: What you need to know (FAQ)

A judge in March ordered a retrial to recalculate damages Samsung has to pay Apple for patent infringement. The new trial kicks off Tuesday.

Apple and Samsung are fighting over patents. CNET
The latest installment in the Apple versus Samsung patent infringement saga kicks off Tuesday. This time, it's all about the money.

In August of last year, a nine-person jury sided with Apple on a majority of its patent infringement claims against Samsung Electronics. At that time, the jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages, much less than the $2.75 billion sought by the Cupertino, Calif., electronics giant. Samsung, which asked for $421 million in its countersuit, didn't get anything.

However, Judge Lucy Koh in March ordered a new trial to recalculate some of the damages in the case, striking $450.5 million off the original judgment against Samsung. What that means is Samsung is still on the hook for about $600 million in damages, but a new jury has to decide how much else it owes.

Essentially, this trial is a do-over of last year's jury ruling on damages. To get a better understanding of what this means, CNET put together this FAQ.

What was the original trial about?
Apple originally filed suit against Samsung in April of 2011, accusing the Korean company of copying the look and feel of its products. Samsung countersued two months later over patent infringement. The initial trial, which stretched more than three weeks in August of 2012, wrapped both of those cases in one, somehow squeezing together the patent infringement issues, alongside antitrust claims and even trade dress issues.

The trial, held in San Jose, Calif., was characterized by a massive trove of evidence that unveiled some of each companies' biggest secrets.

Apple tried to show that Samsung wasn't making anything that looked remotely like the iPhone or iPad until both of those products launched. And Samsung largely pointed to internal documents that showed it was at work on touch-screen phones with giant rectangular screens and rounded corners well before Apple showed up.

A jury ultimately ruled in Apple's favor.

Why did the judge order a new trial?
Koh determined the original jury didn't correctly calculate how much Samsung owed Apple for patent infringement. As she noted in March, "the court has identified an impermissible legal theory on which the jury based its award, and cannot reasonably calculate the amount of excess while effectuating the intent of the jury."

Why did the jury have such a hard time determining an acceptable number in the first trial?
To reach their decision, jurors had to work through a 20-page document that required them to discern which devices from the two companies infringed on which patents -- a daunting task considering Apple had accused nearly two dozen of Samsung's devices of violating patents. In the new trial, jurors will have to fill out a one-page form.

What does the jury have to determine this time around?
Apple says consumers would have bought its iPhones and iPads if Samsung hadn't offered similar products. For the retrial, it all comes down to how much Apple lost from the sale of Samsung's devices that infringed on its patents. On that one-page form, the jury will have to determine the overall amount Samsung owes Apple, as well as the dollar breakdown by product.

Outside US District Court in San Jose, Calif., the scene of the Apple v. Samsung trial. Josh Lowensohn/CNET
Where does the retrial take place?
It will be held in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose.

How long will it last?
The trial should last six days. It begins November 12 with jury selection and possibly opening statements. It's slated to end November 19, and then the jury has time to deliberate. The expectation is everything will be wrapped up by November 22 or early the next week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

How much money is at stake?
Hundreds of millions. Koh cut about $450 million from the initial ruling, and jurors can award Apple more or less than that amount.

What devices does the retrial apply to?
The products in question include the Galaxy Prevail, Gem, Indulge, Infuse 4G, Galaxy SII AT&T, Captivate, Continuum, Droid Charge, Epic 4G, Exhibit 4G, Galaxy Tab, Nexus S 4G, Replenish, and Transform. The Prevail in particular racked up $57.9 million of the damages tally, which Koh said was a failure on the jury's part, since the device was found to infringe only on utility patents, and not on design patents.

What does this mean for consumers?
Not much. The earlier trial determined Samsung had infringed on Apple's patents, and the Korean company already redesigned the devices to avoid issues. It's a third trial, scheduled for March, that could have some impact. That covers devices Samsung has released following Apple's original suit, including the Galaxy S3.

What does this mean for Apple and Samsung?
A few hundred million dollars means very little financially for Apple or Samsung, which generate billions of dollars a year in profits. But where the retrial could be key is setting up appeals. It also could create precedence for further cases related to patent infringement in the new mobile world.

Why don't the companies settle?
Apple and Samsung have held settlement talks many times but haven't been able to reach a compromise. Part of the problem has involved licensing rates for patented technologies. Both sides reportedly have made proposals that were rejected by their rival.

At this point, the litigation is more about pride and being proven right than about money. Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder and CEO, long maintained that Google's Android operating system was a rip-off of Apple's iOS, and he didn't want to settle any lawsuits with Google or its partners.

What's next?
This retrial doesn't mark the end of the Apple-Samsung battle. There are likely to be appeals galore, and another patent trial starts in March. The upcoming trial in 2014 deals with a newer set of devices from both companies, as well as different patents, but it pits both tech giants (who are also business partners) against one another yet again.

Apple filed the new suit against Samsung in February of last year, claiming Samsung's Galaxy Nexus infringed on four of its patents. The case has since grown to include a multitude of products including Samsung's Galaxy S3 and Note 2, along with a counterclaim that targeted Apple's iPhone 5. Koh told both sides they needed to trim down the number of accused products to 25 and patent claims to 25.

 

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