Samsung wins appeal in Apple patent fight

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Samsung wins appeal in Apple patent fight

Reversal of $168m ruling.

A US appeals court has overturned a US$120 million (A$168 million) jury verdict against Samsung, handing the South Korean smartphone maker a significant win in its longstanding patent feud with top rival Apple.

The court said Samsung did not infringe Apple's "quick links" patent, and that two other patents covering the iPhone's slide-to-unlock and auto-correct features were invalid. The court also said Apple was liable for infringing one of Samsung's patents.

"Today's decision is a win for consumer choice and puts competition back where it belongs - in the marketplace, not in the courtroom," a Samsung spokesperson said.

A spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment.

Apple and Samsung have been battling over mobile device technology patents for years. Apple has mostly prevailed, and in December, Samsung paid Apple US$548.2 million stemming from a separate patent case, which Samsung has appealed to the US Supreme Court.

The latest ruling was issued by a unanimous three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit, the country's top court specialisng in patent issues.

The ruling reverses a May 2014 verdict from a federal court in San Jose, California ordering Samsung to pay US$119.6 million for using Apple's patented technology without permission.

Infringement of the quick links feature, which allows the device to recognise data on the touchscreen, such as a phone number, and link to it to make a call, accounted for nearly US$99 million of the damages.

While the appeals court said Samsung did not use the same technology to detect and link to specific data, it also said Apple's other patents were obvious compared to previously known inventions and should never have been granted.

US patent lawyer Bradley Hulbert, who has followed the litigation, said the decision was "a clear signal that Apple is not invincible and that alternative operating systems are here to stay. The marketing and psychological benefits for Samsung are huge".

Rutgers Law School professor Michael Carrier said Apple "rolled the dice" by going to court and today's decision "shows that the patent wars really are not worth it".

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