Samsung's Apple damages equivalent to 16 days' profit

The multimillion-dollar award is equal to several days' profit for each company

The US$930 million in damages Samsung was ordered to pay Apple last year for infringing its smartphone patents is more than some device makers earn in a year, but for Samsung it's equal to just over 16 days' worth of profit.

The Seoul-based company reported its financial results Friday and said quarterly operating profit from its IT and mobile communications division, which sells primarily phones and tablets, came to 5.47 trillion won (US$5.1 billion).

That works out to roughly $56.6 million per day, so the damages it was ordered to pay Apple in one of their California lawsuits amounts to just over two weeks of profit.

For Apple, it's not much different. The California company is due to report its earnings Monday, but based on its July-to-September quarter, the money it was awarded from Samsung is equivalent to eight days of company operating profit. (Unlike Samsung, Apple doesn't break out its profits from mobile.)

That might illustrate why the huge damages award hasn't stopped the two companies from continuing their court battle.

Apple is often credited with creating the modern smartphone market when it launched the iPhone in 2007. The handset is still the best-seller in many countries, but Samsung has become a more popular brand thanks to the multitude of phones it sells.

Apple cried foul in 2011, accusing Samsung of copying essential elements of its iPhone design, and filed its lawsuit. It was followed by a countersuit from Samsung and parallel lawsuits by both companies in the U.S. and elsewhere. Samsung appealed the California award.

The battle isn't over yet. The two companies will face off for a second lawsuit in California in late March, over patents on a different selection of phones.

Ahead of that case, an exasperated Judge Lucy Koh ordered the companies to sit down and see if they can work out their differences. They have until Feb. 19 to convene a meeting between the CEOs of both companies and a mediator to attempt to avoid a further trial.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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