By Jungah Lee and Dina Bass — SEOUL, South Korea — Apple's patent-infringement victory over Samsung Electronics could go far in bolstering its claim of copying and providing an advantage in any settlement between the world's two top smartphone manufacturers.
The U.S. International Trade Commission on Aug. 9 said Samsung infringed two Apple patents and issued an order banning imports of products using the iPhone maker's multitouch features and headphone jack detection. The Obama administration could overturn the import ban on public policy grounds, as it did Aug. 3 in an order against older iPhones.
"These results give Apple a bit of an edge in the settlement negotiations that are going on," said Susan Kohn Ross, a lawyer with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles. "Assuming this order becomes final, the question that arises is how important are these models of phones and other electronic gadgets to the overall portfolio of Samsung products."
The companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees for some sort of victory that gives them the upper hand in a final, negotiated solution. Apple, which initiated the legal fight in 2011, is seeking to limit the Galaxy maker's increasing share of the U.S. smartphone market, where Apple is No. 1 and Samsung No. 2.
"We now have enough court decisions that pretty soon the parties are going to understand their relative strengths against each other and their weaknesses against each other," said Jeff Lewis of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in New York.
Apple filed its first patent-infringement case against Samsung in April 2011, saying the Korean company "has chosen to slavishly copy Apple's innovative technology." Samsung responded a week later with its own patent claims, and the fight has escalated into a legal battle on four continents with no clear winner and no end in sight, despite negotiations that have included direct talks between chief executives of both companies.