In a joint statement filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, Samsung agreed to pay Apple just over $548 million by Dec. 14 in a partial settlement of a long-standing patent dispute between the two companies. The agreement follows a September ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals that found Apple had the right to seek an injunction to prevent Samsung from using several smartphone features found to infringe on Apple patents.
The dispute between the two companies began in 2011, four years after Apple came out with its first iPhone. Apple had obtained numerous patents in connection with its iPhone technology, and sued Samsung for patent infringement alleging the company had copied several key features such as “slide to unlock.”
Under the statement filed Thursday with U.S. District Court Judge Lucy H. Koh of the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, Samsung has agreed to pay Apple $548 million but reserves the right to seek reimbursement if later court decisions go in its favor. The partial settlement is significantly less than the $1 billion-plus awarded to Apple by a jury considering the case in 2012.
Samsung: ‘Grossly Exaggerated Damages’
“We are disappointed that the court has agreed to proceed with Apple’s grossly exaggerated damages claims regardless of whether the patents are valid,” a Samsung spokesperson told us today. “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.”
The Samsung spokesperson noted that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office “has found some of Apple’s patents to be invalid.” The USPTO in 2013 concluded that Apple’s “pinch-to-zoom” feature — Patent No. 7,844,915 — was unpatentable.
Apple did not respond to our request for comment on the joint statement filed by both companies this week. However, its statement with the court noted that the company disputes Samsung’s “asserted rights to reimbursement.”
Dispute Not Settled Yet
After Apple first sued Samsung for infringement in 2011, the South Korean company countersued in several venues. At one point, more than 50 cases between the two companies were pending in courts somewhere on the globe.
With most of those cases now settled and/or dismissed, just two remain: one centered on technology patents and the other focused on packaging materials. That second case is scheduled for a jury decision next year.
“After years of not getting a cent, more than half a billion dollars is significant,” intellectual property blogger Florian Miller wrote Thursday. “But the case management statement … indicates that Samsung, while apparently not asking the Supreme Court to look at this right now, does not believe that the funds will necessarily stay on Apple’s bank account forever …”
Miller added that the dispute “will go on for some more time, especially since the filing also notes that a settlement conference took place on November 2, 2015 and ‘did not result in settlement.'”
Mark Nowotarski, a registered U.S. patent agent specializing in design patents, told us, “It looks like Samsung is only paying because they have to pay. The fact that they are reserving the right to ask for money back in case an appeal goes in their favor indicates the case is not settled.”
He added, “The lawyers still have a lot of work to do and this could go on for quite a while.”