Supreme Court Presses Apple And Samsung On The Value Of Design

from BuzzFeed

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.

More here.

Posted in IPRs, Law and tagged , , , , .


  1. Although this article is several years old, I still find it ludicrous that Apple decided to sue Samsung over the design of a smartphone. The article describes how Apple made a strategic decision to take Samsung to court over “rounded corners” which were found on Samsung’s latest Android phone. This appears to be more of “patent troll” attempt on Apple’s part, rather than a true endeavor to protect what they believe is their intellectual property. There are many devices that existed, prior to the release of the original iPhone, that had a rectangular face with rounded corners, such as the Blackberry Curve.

    It is preposterous to believe that any company should be able to patent a generic design element of a product, such as rounded corners. It is reasonable to hypothesize that when a company such as Apple takes one of their competitors to court, over something so generic as rounded corners, it ultimately hurts consumers, businesses, and the economy. Any tech enthusiast knows that all companies copy the best design ideas from each other. Using the best ideas from each design, and improving them each time, helps the industry grow and evolve. Competition is very important in today’s economy and ultimately drives innovation. Patent trolls on the other hand, put a damper on innovation by trying to eliminate competition. In retaliation for using “rounded corners” Apple wanted Samsung to “forfeit” all the profits generated from its Android business as punishment. Quite a price to pay for a little “rounding.”

  2. This case is crucial to all businesses that are involved in the production of consumer goods, not only in the realm of technology but other constantly changing markets. Apple and Samsung are the two top brands in their market and its common for competitors to recreate or reinvent aspects of their competition’s designs. the question at hand is should Samsung forfeit their total profits to Apple for the use of aspects of their design. I feel like each model should be evaluated by the court to determine exactly which parts of the Samsung phone actually ripped off Apple and the contribution they make to the profits of Samsung.
    I feel as though Apple has the rights to receive damages for their patent but total profits could possibly result in a negative outcome for Samsung which in a way would result in unjust enrichment in Apple’s favor. Necessary retribution would fall along the lines of 50% or less of total profits. If the court rules in favor of apple many companies would start putting judgments out on their competitors for similar reasons. It would turn the court system into a vessel for businesses to weed out competing brands.

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