Apple Inc. scored a sweeping legal victory over Samsung as a US jury found the Korean company had copied critical features of the hugely popular iPhone and iPad and awarded the US company 1.051 billion dollars in damages.
The verdict -- which came much sooner than expected -- could lead to an outright ban on sales of key Samsung products and will likely solidify Apple's dominance of the exploding mobile computing market.
A number of companies that sell smart-phones based on Google's Android operating system may now face further legal challenges from Apple, a company that is already among the largest and most profitable in business history.
Shares in Apple, which last week became the biggest company by market value in history, climbed almost 2% to a record high of 675 dollars in after-hours trade.
The jury deliberated for less than three days before delivering the verdict on seven Apple patent claims and five Samsung patent claims -- suggesting that the nine-person panel had little difficulty in concluding that Samsung had copied the iPhone and the iPad. Billions of dollars in future sales hang in the balance.
Apple's charges that Samsung copied its designs and features are widely viewed as an attack on Google Inc and its Android software, which drives Samsung's devices and has become the most-used mobile software.
Apple and Samsung, two companies that sell more than half the world's smart-phones and tablets, have locked legal horns in several countries this year.
Last Friday, a South Korean court found that both companies shared blame, ordering Samsung to stop selling 10 products including its Galaxy S II phone and banning Apple from selling four different products, including its iPhone 4.
But the trial on Apple's home turf -- the world's largest and most influential technology market -- is considered the most important.
The fight began last year when Apple sued Samsung in multiple countries, accusing the South Korean company of slavishly copying the iPhone and iPad. Samsung countersued. Apple had sought more than 2.5 billion in damages from Samsung, which has disputed that figure.
The companies are rivals, but also have a 5 billion-plus supply relationship. Apple is Samsung's biggest customer for microprocessors and other parts central to Apple's devices.
From the beginning, Apple's tactic was to present what it thought was chronological evidence of Samsung copying its phone.
Samsung's attorneys, on the other hand, maintained Apple had no sole right to geometric designs such as rectangles with rounded corners. They called Apple's damage claim ridiculous and urged the jury to consider that a verdict in favour of Apple could stifle competition and reduce choices for consumers.