Several Supreme Court justices challenged Samsung’s argument on Tuesday that the company should owe Apple less than $399 million for infringing on the design of the iPhone. Other justices, though, pressed Apple to show why its damages in the case should be connected to Samsung’s profits made from the entire phone — rather than just the part of its exterior that Samsung was found to have copied.
The dispute between the warring phone companies revolves around the $399 million penalty Samsung was ordered to pay Apple, stemming from a lawsuit that began in 2011. A lower court found that Samsung infringed on three of Apple’s design patents: the iPhone’s rectangular face with rounded edges, the phone’s bezel edge frame, and a home screen populated by apps arranged in a grid. The dollar amount comes from the total profits Samsung banked from eleven of its phone models that the lower court found ripped off Apple’s iPhone design. But exactly how much money Samsung must hand over is what the Supreme Court will decide.
Samsung tried to convince the Supreme Court that it shouldn’t have to forfeit all of the profits it generated from the phones, since only some parts of its devices were patented by Apple.
The law that the high court will interpret states that a design patent infringer is liable for “total profits” from the sale of an “article of manufacture.” But the oral arguments focused on pinning down what “article of manufacture” actually means: the justices could determine it refers to the entire phone, or just the components that were patented by the iPhone maker.