Judge Lucy Koh has just delivered a serious blow to Cupertino in the Apple v. Samsung legal saga, cutting the damages awarded to the company down to $598,908,892 — and ordering a new trial to determine the remaining balance. In an order this morning, Koh stated that "the Court identified an impermissible legal theory on which the jury based its award," and as such was reducing the original $1.049 billion awarded to Apple in the trial's August verdict. Koh ordered that a new trial take place to determine new damages for the amount she cut — $450,514,650, to be precise — but said that she encouraged both sides to go through the appeals process before proceeding straight to a new trial.
Two main errors
Koh found two main errors in the way the jury calculated the damages awarded to Apple. They used Samsung's profits to determine the amount the company owed for infringing some of Apple's utility patents — a practice only appropriate when calculating damages owed when design patents have been infringed. They also erred when calculating the time period Apple should be awarded damages for. Koh explains that Apple was only due damages for product sales that occurred after Cupertino informed Samsung of its belief that the violations were taking place.
Apple had argued that a meeting between the two companies on August 4th, 2010 served as sufficient notice of all the claims in the case, but the list of patents presented to Samsung at that time included just Apple's '381 "scrollback" patent. Apple didn't provide Samsung with an extended list of violated IP until it filed its complaint against the company on April 15th of 2011. Additional infringing devices were later added on June 16th of that year.
Koh declined to calculate new damages on her own
In addition to its request for a retrial on damages, Samsung had also requested that Koh unilaterally calculate new damages on her own. She declined to do so in each instance as she was unable to determine the entirety of the jury's intent and process — and therefore wouldn't be able to adjust appropriately based upon the errors she spotted.
All told, the damages relating to 14 different Samsung devices — including the Nexus S 4G and the AT&T variant of the Galaxy S II — were pulled by the order, and since the jury's calculations were found to have been in error it's extremely unlikely that Apple will find itself awarded anything near that original $450 million through a new trial.
The verdict still stands
While the amount Samsung owes Apple has been reduced, it's important to note that Koh didn't declare that the jury was incorrect in assessing whether Samsung had infringed upon Apple's intellectual property; those decisions themselves still stand. In one bright spot for Apple, Koh also agreed that it was owed additional damages for sales of infringing Samsung devices that occurred after the end of the trial. However, these amounts will likely be trivial in comparison, and due to the number of outstanding issues Koh stated that the matter should wait until any appeals in the case have been completed. With both companies gearing up for another battle in 2014, it appears there's no end in sight between the two manufacturers.
Matt Macari contributed to this report.