Samsung Relieved in Apple Patent Case By Supreme Court [Video]By Julia Ramirez, UniversityHerald Reporter
Samsung no longer has to pay $399 million in profits for copying parts of Apple's iPhone's unique look. This is a unanimous decision ruled on Tuesday by the Supreme Court.
A federal law states that companies that are liable for infringing patents on design on an "article of manufacture" are responsible for their total profits. The quoted phrase was clarified in the decision in No. 15-777 in the case of Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc, in a report by the New York Times.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor clarified that an article of manufacture may include an entire product sold to clients. In this case, these are the phones of Samsung, and there are also cases where parts of the whole are found to have infringed a design patent.
Apple's patents included iPhone's particular design elements. These include the black rectangular front face with rounded corners and its 16-icon colorful grid. Samsung was found to have infringed these patents in 2012.
Justice Sotomayor further wrote that Apple was granted $399 million in damages for the infringement of the design patents by Samsung. This entire income Samsung made was from the sales of the smartphones that have infringed iPhone's design.
Design patents involve how products appear while utility patents address how products function. Design patents are rare and a design patent case has not been filed in over a century in the Supreme Court.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a court that specializes in cases regarding patent appeals, ruled last year that the federal law mandates the granting of total profit from the article of manufacture that bears the patented design.
Tech companies are prone to imitating innovations created by their competitors and integrate thousands of patented ideas in a new product. The biggest companies often perform patent cross-licensing to prevent infringement claims.