In an 8-0 decision, the US Supreme Court sided against Apple in its design patent fight with Samsung. The move wipes out any of the remaining damages that Infinite Loop would hope to gain from the legal dispute — at this point, $399 million — and sends the case down to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to further determine legal precedence.
The five-year-old case revolves around Samsung’s 2010 and 2011 smartphones being sold in the open market and Apple’s claim that the chaebol infringed upon several patented design elements of the iPhone.
Justice Sonya Sotomayor, writing the Court’s opinion, stated that in lower court decisions, judges favored Apple on the basis that Samsung infringed upon individual design patents. As each individual component of the phone cannot be bought by a consumer, damages on each charge were awarded on the total profits Samsung made per offending phone it sold.
Sotomayor remands the opinion and broadly defines an “article of manufacture” in part as to be both a thing (read: smartphone) that is made available to consumers and a component that is made for that product. Getting damages for the latter tends to be trickier as, in this case, Apple would need to show that, say, Samsung’s 16-button home screen interface that allegedly infringed on Apple’s patented interface directly helped the Korean company profit and, if so, how much of that profit is attributable to that element.
The issue was raised of determining a legal test for what constitutes an article of manufacture and a component of such a thing — that task now is with the Federal Circuit. Depending on how the test is construed, Samsung may still be liable for some damages up to $399 million.
Samsung was found liable by the Federal Circuit for $120 million in damages over the infringement of other patents such as “slide to unlock.”