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US court backs US Apple against Asia’s Samsung

In the latest twist in a series of patent cases between the smart phone giants, the Federal Circuit Appeals judges ruled 8-3 in a rehearing of the case, reversing a panel of the same court in February.

Apple’s lawsuit contends that Samsung infringed on patents for “slide to unlock” and autocorrection, among others. The ruling said Samsung failed to prove that some of the Apple innovations were “obvious” and thus not able to be patented.

The opinion also said the court must defer to the decision of the jury when in doubt. “Even in cases in which a court concludes that a reasonable jury could have found some facts differently, the verdict must be sustained if it is supported by substantial evidence on the record that was before the jury,” Judge Kimberly Moore wrote for the majority.

Apple asked for an “en banc” rehearing of the case — before all the appeals court judges — following February’s decision to toss out the award. Apple had sought some $2.2 billion at trial, only to have a jury award the California-based company $119.6 million. In February, the panel of judges ruled that Samsung did not infringe on one of the Apple patents and that the remaining two, which involved auto-correct and slide-to-unlock features, were not valid. Neither company responded to requests for comment.

The case is separate from another suit in which Samsung was ordered to pay $548 million for patent infringement to Apple and whose appeal is set for a hearing next week in the US Supreme Court. Samsung and Apple decided in 2014 to drop all patent disputes outside the United States, marking a partial ceasefire in a seemingly relentless legal war between the world’s two largest smartphone makers.

The companies have battled in close to a dozen countries, with each accusing the other of infringing on various patents related to their flagship smartphone and tablet products.

Apple is also facing fresh challenges in the premium smartphone market from its compatriot company Google, which has unveiled its new ‘Pixel’ brand of phones, geared up with Google Assistant and virtual reality capabilities. The two phones — Pixel and Pixel XL — will be available in India, priced at Rs 57,000 onwards, in 32GB and 128GB versions. The eagerly awaited smartphones replace the existing Nexus line.

The devices will be put up for pre-order from October 13 in India and will be sold by the end of October. The handsets would be available through channels like Flipkart, Reliance Retail, Croma and Vijay Sales in India. India is among the first six countries where Pixel is being launched.

“Hardware isn’t a new area for Google but we are now taking steps to showcase the very best of Google across a family of devices designed and built by us. This is a natural step and we are in it for the long haul,” Google SVP Hardware Rick Osterloh said at an event here.

Building hardware and software together would let the company take full advantage of capabilities like its Google Assistant, harnessing its expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence. While most handset vendors other than Apple use Google’s Android operating system, the company has made various approaches to building its own hardware. 
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