Apple Ruled Against by Supreme Court in Design Patent Case with Samsung

Apple Ruled Against by Supreme Court in Design Patent Case with Samsung

In 2011, Apple sued Samsung for numerous design patent infringements relating to its smart phone. A jury found that several of Samsung’s phones did infringe on those patents. The National Law Review reports that the  Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) recently put out a unanimous opinion written by Justice Sotomayor that reversed the Federal Circuit’s ruling that Apple was entitled to multi-million dollar damages, remanding the case back to the lower court. The damage award, which was $399 million, represented the entirety of Samsung’s profits from the sale of infringing smartphones.


The Reasoning Behind the Ruling

The Federal Circuit upheld the lower court’s jury award, holding the statutory language explicitly authorized the award of total profit of manufacture bearing the patent design, citing to U.S. patent law.

The SCOTUS, however, disagreed with the conclusion that the law necessarily referred to the product sold to consumers and asked the lower court to lay out a test to identify what should be considered the “relevant article of manufacture” in order to compute a damages analysis and apply that test to the facts of the case. The SCOTUS Justices considered whether the “relevant article of manufacture” must always be the end product when a product has multiple components. The Court held the term can include both the end product sold to a consumer as well as a component of that product. The SCOTUS ruling implies that the conclusion that the “relevant article of manufacture” is the end product may have resulted in an unjustifiably large award for damages.


Intellectual Property Basics

In general terms, intellectual property (IP) is the best creations of the mind that are granted legal rights typically associated with a real or personal property. These rights are obtained by the creator of IP are created by the legislature and may include state and/or federal law protection.

Intellectual property (IP) rights are granted under the laws of each nation, country or region. Beyond this, several international agreements on IP rights allow for simultaneous registration in several countries. There are different types of IP, which include inventions, brand names and designs, as well as literary and artistic creations, to name a few.

These IP are protected in several different ways including:

  • Copyright;
  • Patents;
  • Trade secrets;
  • Design protection;
  • Right of publicity;
  • Trademark and unfair competition; and
  • Plant variety rights.


Intellectual Property Attorney

If you or someone you know has intellectual property that needs to be protected, or an individual or company is infringing on already obtained IP rights, it is important to contact a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney right away to protect your creation and seek possible damages due to you under state and/or federal laws.


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