On Friday, August 24, a nine member jury entered a verdict in favor of Apple and awarded almost $1.05 billion in damages. Apple filed suit against one of its largest competitors, Samsung Electronics, in April 2011, and alleged that Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets infringed seven of Apple’s patents covering the iPhone and iPod products. In turn, Samsung countersued alleging that Apple infringed Samsung’s patents covering various wireless software components of its products. After more than a year of highly contentious litigation and following a trial that began at the end of July and lasted the better part of August, the jury deliberated for less than three days before delivering the verdict in favor of Apple.
Prior to trial, Apple received a significant e-discovery victory when the court sanctioned Samsung for its failure to preserve emails after Samsung should have anticipated the lawsuit by Apple. The court determined that Samsung had a duty to preserve evidence as of August 23, 2010, and while Samsung issued a litigation hold and provided instructions detailing how to save emails using its email system, Samsung failed to disable the auto-delete function of its email system, which automatically deleted all emails every two weeks in Samsung’s Korean offices. The court ordered that, as part of the sanctions, the jury would be allowed to draw an adverse inference against Samsung and that the jury would be told to presume that relevant evidence was destroyed and that the lost evidence was favorable to Apple.
The court also entered pretrial preliminary injunctions against Samsung barring the sale of the Galaxy Nexus phone and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the United States. Moreover, the court delivered various ruling for and against both parties on various in limine motions. One ruling against Samsung appeared to be very significant: Samsung took issue with the court’s ruling that, because Samsung failed to disclose in time contentions that Samsung’s designs were in development before the iPhone, Samsung was precluded from using slides containing images of the Samsung designs.
In opening statements and during trial, Apple set forth its theory that Samsung had ripped off the unique design features of the iPad and iPhone and infringed certain utility patents. Apple focused on comparisons between Samsung’s phones from 2006 to its newer smartphones from 2010. Also, Apple relied on internal documents from Samsung comparing Samsung’s products with the iPhone hardware. On the other hand, Samsung maintained the position that Apple had no right to claim a monopoly on certain design features that were not revolutionary. Samsung’s theory to demonstrate non-infringement was to get the jury to focus on the specific legal requirements relating to each of Apple’s patents. Samsung also went on the offensive by attempting to prove that Apple’s products use certain Samsung features for mobile devices, such as the process for emailing photos and the technology relating to easily finding photos in an album. Moreover, Samsung attempted to demonstrate that Apple’s patents were invalid due to developments in technology that existed before Apple claimed to have invented such technology. The parties relied on various liability and damages experts to support their respective positions.
During closing arguments, counsel for Apple argued that Samsung copied Apple’s designs after realizing that Samsung could no longer compete with Apple. Samsung, in turn, argued that a verdict in favor of Apple would severely suppress competition and reduce consumer choices. In the end, with more than 100 pages of legal instructions, the jury was able to complete a 20 page-long verdict form and return a verdict in less than three days.