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Samsung may owe Apple a lot less than $930M, appeals court finds

The court rules that Samsung did violate some of Apple's design patents, but finds the Korean company did not copy the overall packaging of the product.

Samsung may only have to fork over $548 million in damages to Apple. Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Apple may not wind up with the full $930 million in damages awarded to it in 2013 following a major patent skirmish with Samsung.

In 2011, Apple filed a lawsuit against Samsung, accusing it of violating several patents in the design of its mobile devices. Apple won the trial in 2012, with the jury awarding it $1.05 billion in damages. In March 2013, US District Court Judge Lucy Koh whittled $450.5 million off those damages, but in November a jury awarded Apple an additional $290.5 million in damages, ultimately adding up to about $930 million.

Samsung appealed the decision, and on Monday, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit released its ruling, Reuters reported. The appeals court upheld the violations that concerned design patents but struck down the ones over trade dress, a legal term that refers to the way a product is packaged or presented.

As a result, the $382 million awarded for those violations will have to now be reconsidered by a lower court. Assuming the lower court finds in favor of Samsung over the issue, the Korean company would have to fork over just $548 million in damages to Apple.

"We are pleased the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal confirmed Samsung blatantly copied Apple products," an Apple spokesman said. "This is a victory for design and those who respect it. Even though Samsung must pay for its widespread infringement of our patents, this case has always been about more than money. It's about innovation and the hard work that goes into inventing products that people love, which is hard to put a price on."

The ruling was viewed differently by Samsung.

"We welcome the US Court of Appeals' ruling overturning Apple's infringement and damage claims against Samsung over trade dress," a Samsung spokesman said. "Today's decision shows that Apple's claims over trade dress and damages lack merit and are grossly exaggerated. We remain confident that our products do not infringe on Apple's design patents and other intellectual property, and we will continue to take all appropriate measures to protect our products. For decades, we have heavily invested in pioneering the development of technological innovations in the mobile industry, which have been a cornerstone for all our products."

For years, Apple and Samsung have battled each other not just in the technology market but in the courtroom. The two have spent considerable time and resources suing and countersuing each other over alleged patent violations of their respective mobile products. Apple's suits are indirectly aimed at Android as Google's mobile operating system has come to dominate the smartphone arena. As such, Apple's legal salvos are one attempt to slow the momentum of Android by trying to convince the courts to lend a hand.

The appeals court ruling, as posted on Scribd by AppleInsider, explains the reasoning behind the decision and lists the items cited in the trade dress violation, including a rectangular product with four evenly rounded corners, a flat, clear surface covering the front of the product and a display screen under the clear surface.

Perhaps weary of the constant legal battles, Apple and Samsung agreed last year to drop all lawsuits outside the United States. Beyond the current case overseen by the appeals court, a second case before the same court is still pending, according to Bloomberg. In that one, Apple is arguing that certain patented features should be removed from Samsung's Galaxy phones.

Update, 4:40 a.m. PT May 19: A Samsung statement has been added.