The dispute has attracted
This is the first time the High Court has taken a look at
That question is not whether Samsung copied parts of the iPhone’s design—including its rounded corners, a “bezel” or surrounding rim, a grid of 16 colorful icons and the phone’s “distinctive front face”—among other features,
Rather than deciding the issue of infringement, the Supreme Court justices will decide whether Samsung owes Apple all the profits it made from its infringing phones—or just those profits attributable to the infringing features.
This decision will interpret a
But the world is a lot different now, with companies like Samsung making “complex, multicomponent technological products,” the brief noted. If certain elements of those products infringe design patents, then the maker should only have to pay damages attributable to the offending components, according to the amicus brief.
Those tech companies—and Samsung, for that matter—are asking the Supreme Court to overturn a decision last year by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that ruled in Apple’s favor. That decision found Apple was entitled to “
If it’s allowed to stand, that decision could pave the way for frivolous lawsuits that could hamper tech companies and stymie innovation, the tech companies argue. From the brief:
As predicted by numerous commentators, the Federal Circuit’s decision has already prompted so-called “patent trolls” to threaten design-patent litigation against Samsung and its amici. Meanwhile, companies are applying for and obtaining record numbers of design patents, which are certain to be asserted at similarly growing rates. The ensuing litigation, and threats of litigation, will further undermine innovation and the research and development efforts of amici—a particularly troubling development in light of the spurious quality of many design patents
While a jury initially awarded Apple $930 million back in 2012, the award
Samsung suggests in a statement that this isn’t just about the money, noting, “Samsung took this case to the Supreme Court because we believe the way design patent law has been interpreted is not in line with modern times because it discourages competition, innovation and consumer choice.”
For its part, Apple has
A product’s design enables a manufacturer like Samsung to sell a particular product and make a profit in the first place, Apple’s brief notes. “Samsung’s smartphones are sold as single, unitary articles to ordinary purchasers,” the brief notes, “and their infringing designs are closely intertwined with the phones’ hardware and software to create the products’ overall look and feel.”
Apple’s brief also suggests Samsung’s infringement was brazen, noting, “The evidence showed how assiduously Samsung copied Apple’s iPhone in response to its ‘crisis of design,’ and instantly increased its market share,” the brief noted.
Erin Fuchs is deputy managing editor of Yahoo Finance.