Apple, which has a plurality share of the smartphone market, has once again taken Samsung to court for supposed theft. Apple sought over $2 billion in damages for patent infringement. CNET reports, “The jury found all of Samsung’s accused gadgets infringed Apple’s ‘quick links’ patent but that none infringed the ‘universal search’ patent or the ‘background sync’ patent. Results were mixed for the ‘slide to unlock’ patent, with some Samsung devices, such as the Galaxy Nexus, found to infringe [on the patent], and others found not to [infringe on the patent]…
The jury awarded Apple only $119.6 million for Samsung’s infringement.”
Samsung was then awarded $158,400 by the jury because Apple was found to have violated their patent for photo and video organization in folders.
This latest round of lawsuits comes nearly two years after Apple was awarded $1.5 billion in the same court room. After that case, in 2012, Samsung issues a statement saying, “[this] verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer… It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day…”
After this most recent case, Apple issues a statement, “[this] ruling reinforces what courts around the world have already found: that Samsung willfully stole our ideas and copied our products. We are fighting to defend the hard work that goes into beloved products like the iPhone, which our employees devote their lives to designing and delivering for our customers.”
It seems quite a stretch to claim that because a jury awarded damages for a patent infringement case that the jury found Samsung to have “willfully stole ideas and copied products.” That’s because patent suits only require a preponderance of evidence, not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Also, there is no legal requirement to show that the action was willful, only that the infringing party “should have known” the action would contribute to a patent infringement. In fact, the jury found that Samsung had only willfully violated the “automatic word correction” patent, in this case.
This statement by Apple, also ignores that fact that multiple people can have similar ideas independently of one another, and implies that Samsung has somehow voided the labor of Apple employees. Samsung never claimed to have created the iPhone, nor were any of their products represented as being an iPhone. Samsung did not commit fraud against Apple or against their customers. Samsung is guilty of having created a product that “looked” and “acted” too much like a product sold by Apple.
Nina Paley and Stephan Kinsella remind us that copying is not theft; the originator of the idea still has the idea, even when you use that information to guide your action or configure your own property!