The greatest patent war is back: Apple and Samsung are heading back to the US Supreme Court to contest a patent case from 2012.
Apple and Samsung are slated to appear before the US Supreme Court on the 11th of October to argue over a parent case from 2012.
The appearance of both firms continues the long-running ‘patent wars’, in which both companies launched volleys of lawsuits against one another regarding products which were alleged to have violated several standing patents. The thing is, none of the offending devices have been sold for years.
Three patents are being considered in the new Supreme Court case; Samsung’s infringing products – the Galaxy Prevail, Gem, Indulge, Infuse 4G, Galaxy SII AT&T, Captivate, Continuum, Droid Charge, Epic 4G, Exhibit 4G, Galaxy Tab, Nexus S 4G, Replenish, and Transform – stand accused of violating three Apple patents which depict:
- A rectangular, round-cornered front face
- A rectangular, round-cornered face with a surrounding bezel
- A colourful grid of 16 icons.
That might well represent most phones available on the market today, however. In 2012, a nine-person jury took Apple’s side, claiming patent infringement against Samsung. Apple was then awarded $1.05 billion USD in damages. Samsung countersued for $421 million USD, but failed to gain traction in the courts.
Later, in 2013, US District Court Judge Lucy Koh ordered a new trial to begin that would recalculate some of the damages in the case based on the total profits Samsung made as a result of its infringing products. Ultimately, the Samsung paid Apple $548 million USD in damages in December of 2015.
Now, the Supreme Court has been approached by Samsung to provide guidance on what is covered by a design patent, and also what damages can be collected. Further, a second issue posed to the Supreme Court reads “Where a patented design is applied only to a component of a product, should an award of infringer’s profits be limited to profits attributable to that component?”
In essence, Samsung hopes to contest that Apple should only receive profits from components that infringe on patents, rather than a complete product as a whole. In short, that judgement – if passed – would mean Samsung would theoretically owe Apple far less than originally stated, and would set a looser precedent on product patents, wherein only damages on the profits of infringing components of a device – rather than the device as a whole – can be claimed.
On Samsung’s side, Dell, eBay, Facebook, Google and HP have rallied to support the South Korean giant, while well-known fashion names such as Calvin Klein and Alexander Wang have pledged support for Apple.
Either victory will likely lead to further trials. Should Samsung walk away the victor, a lower court would have to decide on exactly how much the South Korean manufacturer owes Apple. Other design patent cases would be bound to the Supreme Court’s decision, and would hence have to limit the total figure of damages they can seek.
Should Apple win, Samsung will likely have to pay an additional $180 million USD to settle outstanding damages, while similar patent cases will be bound to the Supreme Court’s decision.
We’ll continue providing coverage on the Supreme Court’s decision as news develops.
What are your thoughts? Which company’s claim do you feel is strongest, and why? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!