Apple has won a notable patent case against Samsung in the US relating to technology used for predictive text input on smartphones.
The case began over a patent referred to as patent 172, which covers the means by which the iPhone suggests words to a user as they type, known as autocorrect. The case centred on point 18 of the patent, which outlines the way in which autocorrect works.
Apple claimed Samsung copied this feature in its Android devices and US district court judge Lucy Koh upheld this complaint, after dismissing Samsung's claim that the patent only referred to physical keyboards.
“The court holds that no reasonable jury could conclude that the virtual keyboards of the ’172 accused products fall outside of the plain and ordinary meaning of the term 'keyboard' in claim 18," she wrote in the ruling.
“Because Samsung does not otherwise dispute Apple’s satisfactory showing of infringement as to that claim, the court grants Apple’s motion for summary judgment that the ’172 Accused Products infringe claim 18 of the ’172 Patent.”
The case included a raft of Samsung devices including the Samsung Galaxy Note and Note 2, and the Galaxy S2 and S3. It could have serious implications for other Android devices that use the same text input method.
Samsung said it was disappointed by the court's decision but hoped future trials for other patent areas would go in its favour.
“We are disappointed by the court’s decision, and look forward to the jury trial, when the jury is expected to consider the claims related to the remaining summary judgment requests that were denied," it said.
"We remain confident that our products do not infringe Apple’s intellectual property, and we will continue to take all appropriate measures to protect our intellectual property rights.”
Apple, which declined to comment, was not successful in all the patent disputes brought to the court under this case. A claim that Samsung had infringed a patent referred to as "links for structures" – which covers the ability of devices to recognise data such as numbers, addresses and dates within messages, so a user can interact with this information – was rejected.
Koh ruled that Apple had failed to prove enough ownership of this patent to justify a summary judgment. She also dismissed a claim by Samsung that Apple infringed on a data synchronisation patent in use in its devices.
The case marks another notable victory for Apple over its rival, after it was awarded damages late last year in a major case in the US on a number of design patents. This takes the potential damages Samsung will have to pay to Apple to almost $1bn.
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