The high court has sided with Samsung in the biggest design patent in 120 years. The South Korean company will have to pay its American rival $399 million in damages.
The legal dispute was concerned on whether the “article of manufacture” in US patent law should be interpreted as the finished product or just a component within a complex product.
The court papers settled on Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s 8.0 ruling, which states that the patent violator does not always have to hand over the entirety of profits from the sales of the products using stolen designs if the designs covered only certain components and not the whole product.
Apple said that Tuesday’s ruling allowed Samsung to “blatantly copy our ideas”. They said they hoped lower courts “will again send a powerful signal that stealing isn’t right”.
Samsung said in a statement the ruling was a “victory for Samsung and for all those who promote creativity, innovation and fair competition in the marketplace.”
Tuesday’s decision has given Samsung the hope that it will be able to retrieve some of the money it paid to Apple back in 2012, following a verdict that it infringed Apple’s iPhone patents and copied its distinctive appearance in making the Galaxy smartphone.
Different experts on intellectual property law have spoken on the case, predicting it won’t be easy for courts to differentiate between a product’s design and the overall use, not to mention setting dollar figures for components.
Rick McKenna, head of the design rights group at the law firm Foley & Lardner has said that “it is possible that we will enter into years of turmoil over the proper tests for calculating damages for infringement of a design patent,”