Apple vs Samsung: The legal showdown over design patents

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CIOL Apple vs Samsung- The legal show down over design patents

A legal case which started in 2011 between two smartphone giants - Apple and Samsung – may get its final verdict tomorrow. After paying $399 million, plus another $150 million for infringing a patent on “pinch to zoom” technology to Apple, the U.S. Supreme Court will witness the argument over how much Samsung should further pay for copying patented designs for Apple's iPhone.


In a separate case, a federal appeals court last week reinstated a $119.6 million verdict against Samsung in a suit involving Apple’s slide-to-unlock feature for smartphones and tablets.

Though the lawsuit sounds more about the infringement of three of Apple’s design patents - iPhone's black rectangle shape with rounded corners, another which covers the raised frame holds the screen to the rest of the phone, the last one covers the layout of 16 colourful icons on the screen - the case is more about how much the company should have to compensate Apple under a law that says it must pay the “total profit.”

However, Samsung says the award, which represents its entire profit from 11 disputed phones, is a "disproportionate" sum for infringement of Apple’s patented design features. On the other side, Apple says the full award is warranted given Samsung’s "blatant copying" of the iPhone’s iconic look.


In an 8-3 ruling, the US Court of appeals for the Federal Circuit said a three-judge panel was wrong to throw out the $119.6 million verdict. Instead, it ordered the trial judge to consider whether the judgment should be increased based on any intentional infringement by Samsung.

Though Samsung has good point, “that it’s absurd to claim anyone values any Smartphone depending entirely on a design feature rather than what it does” it's hard to predict who will win the case. If Samsung wins the case, then Apple will have to repay the complete amount at once, i.e, $399 million.

The stakes are high for both the parties. Maybe the 6-year-old fight is about to get over, or maybe not?

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