In the latest jaw-dropping news to come out of Apple and Samsung’s U.S. patent dispute, Apple is hoping to collect a whopping $2.5 billion from its South Korean rival in a San Jose trial that begins Monday.
But, of course, while Apple is asking for that much, it’s unlikely to receive so much money, or even emerge the winner, when all is said and done. First, the $2.5 billion that Apple wants Samsung to pay is an unprecedented, almost laughable amount. Second, Samsung is also seeking a half-cent levy in damages for every Apple iPhone and iPad sold, alleging that Apple is infringing on patents of its own.
“These numbers are pretty high,” said Mark A. Lemley, Director of Stanford’s Program in Law, Science and Technology. “If Apple got the $2.5 billion, it would be the largest patent victory in history.”
In a similar patent dispute in Australia, a judge Monday called Apple and Samsung’s technology and design patent disputes “ridiculous.” In the U.K., a judge ruled that the Samsung Galaxy tab couldn’t possibly be found to infringe on the iPad because it’s “not as cool” and has ordered Apple to run ads in British newspapers stating that Samsung doesn’t infringe on its patents.
As far as the US litigation, either side getting exactly what it asks for is unlikely, Lemley said. “Those numbers will likely come down, but really, the money is secondary to the injunctions at stake in this case.”
Leading up to the San Jose trial, both Apple and Samsung have had their share of small victories and defeats in the realm of product injunctions. In June, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who is presiding over the San Jose proceedings, issued a preliminary sales ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet and the Galaxy Nexus smartphone. In July, about a week after the smartphone ban was imposed, a federal appeals court overturned the sales stoppage.
“A jury could rule either way on some of these design patents and injunctions,” Lemley said. “The iPad design patent is basically a rectangle. If it’s really the case that nobody else can design a tablet that looks like a rectangle, then some changes will need to be made across the entire industry.”
Apple is accusing Samsung of ripping off the look and feel of its iPhone and iPad products, as well as using Apple patents to advance the technology in its products, which have led to rising Samsung sales.
“Samsung’s infringing sales have enabled Samsung to overtake Apple as the largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world,” Apple said in court documents first obtained by the website Foss Patents. “Samsung has reaped billions of dollars in profits and caused Apple to lose hundreds of millions of dollars through its violation of Apple’s intellectual property.”
Samsung, meanwhile, accuses Apple of infringing on patents, “without which Apple could not have become a successful participant in the mobile telecommunications industry,” according to a Reuters report. Samsung also accused Apple of working to “stifle legitimate competition and limit consumer choice to maintain its historically exorbitant profits,” the report said.