Samsung case learning point

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Samsung case learning point

Supreme Court issued a decision in Samsung Electronics Co. Apple which found by a unanimous vote that a damages award for design patent infringement may be limited to revenues attributable to a component of an article of manufacture and not the entire article itself.

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The question presented by Samsung in the petition for certiorari was: The statute does not allow for apportionment of damages with respect to design patent infringement and ultimately the Supreme Court did not discuss the apportionment issue in its decision.

The infringed design patents are U. The infringed utility patents are U. The diluted trade dresses are Trademark Registration No. On March 6,the district court entered a final judgment in favor of Apple, and Samsung filed a notice of appeal. All totaled, the amount won by Apple as a result of the infringement i.

Case Remanded Both Samsung and Apple had asked the Supreme Court to determine whether the appropriate article of manufacture in this case was the entire smartphone or whether it was a particular component of the smartphone.

After deciding that it is possible that an article of manufacture could be a component of the product sold to consumer the Supreme Court punted on this key question, instead deciding to remand it to the Federal Circuit for further consideration.

According to the Supreme Court the briefing was insufficient for them to reach that question. The parties ask us to go further and resolve whether, for each of the design patents at issue here, the relevant article of manufacture is the smartphone, or a particular smartphone component.

Doing so is not necessary to resolve the question presented in this case, and the Federal Circuit may address any remaining issues on remand.

The fact that the Supreme Court did not reach the critical question in this case feels like a copout. Those familiar with the Supreme Court will understand that this type of decision is typical for a Court that does not like to answer the key question before them, instead preferring to vaguely shed light on the matter and then kick it back down for further proceedings by lower tribunals.

Indeed, if anything this Supreme Court has gone well beyond the questions presented, frequently talking about patent trolls who are not in the room, and relying on facts sometimes dubious facts submitted in amicus briefs to support their fundamental reconfiguration of U.

Perhaps the decision to say very little is a signal that the Court will revert back its traditional preference to decide as little as possible.

There is also the small outside chance that with only 8 Justices the Court decided it would be better to say less rather than risk the decision being anything other than unanimous.

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Given that the Court was so preoccupied with apportionment of damages during oral arguments and the fact that the decision does not raise the issue of apportionment at all, perhaps that signals there was a divide on that particular issue that prevented the Court from going further than saying it is possible that an article of manufacture could be less than the whole unit sold to consumers, which is a pretty low energy way to have disposed of this case.

No longer can a patent holder get all of the profits from the sale of a product infringing a design patent. Instead, they may recover the profits attributable to the infringing feature.

Design patents are an often overlooked tool to protect IP.

Samsung case learning point

While they are still very valuable, this decision reduces slightly the advantages of a design patent by limiting the amount of damages that can be recovered. Although the Supreme Court declined to issue any opinion on the test which could be applied to determine the scope of what is covered by a design patent, a four-part test for such a determination can be found on pages 27 to 29 of an amicus curiae brief filed by the U.

Because Apple and Samsung did not file briefs on this issue, the Supreme Court declined to lay out a test despite noting that such a test existed in the U. Liang believes that this Supreme Court decision will have both a broad implication and a narrower implication as to how design patent infringement awards will be determined in the future.

Wrighta design patent case decided in involving the design of spoon and fork handles. If they were, there would be more Supreme Court cases.

Samsung case learning point

Two, it tells you that this is a real sea change in how design patent infringement awards are going to be calculated.Discover the latest in electronic & smart appliance technology with Samsung.

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