A northern California district court in a partial ruling on Tuesday found that while Samsung copied Apple's design patents, it did not do so "willfully."
Since the jury found in August last year that Samsung infringed Apple's design patent, the court has been delivering piecemeal rulings on specific issues as it prepares for a formal verdict.
The latest ruling is important because it overturns the jury's finding last year that Samsung deliberately copied Apple's design. If a court does not recognize willful infringement of proprietary patents, the amount of compensation usually shrinks.
The jury had awarded Apple US$10.5 billion in compensation.
Apple appealed on grounds that Samsung was a deliberate copycat, which could have resulted in further punitive damages up to three times the original award.
Samsung refrained from commenting on the latest court decision.