Samsung-Apple design patent infringement battle remanded back to Federal Circuit

Supreme Court of the United States: The Supreme Court of the United States on hearing a matter regarding infringement on designs matters between Apple and Samsung has reversed and remanded the matter back to the Federal Circuit for fresh consideration.

The facts in issue are that Apple in 2011 had sued Samsung for having infringed certain design patents owned by it over its smart phone. The jury found that Samsung had indeed infringed three design patents owned by apple i.e. (a) ‘black rectangular front face with rounded corners’, (b) ‘rectangular front face with rounded corners and a raised rim’ and a (c) ‘grid of 16 colorful icons on a black screen’. Consequently, Apple was awarded damages worth $ 399 million in accordance with Section 289 (which provided for recovery of the total profit made by an infringer from the infringement).

The Federal Circuit confirmed the damages award by rejecting the contention of Samsung that an award for damages under Section 289 should be limited to the ‘Article of Manufacture’ and not the entire smart phone, on the ground that the individual components of apple in the smart phone could not be sold separately to the consumer therefore the profits made by Samsung from the entire smart phone shall be awarded to Apple. The Supreme Court of the United States found fault with the narrow construction of the Federal Circuit regarding the ‘Article of Manufacture’ by holding that even individual components in the final products could be patented. Therefore, the Federal Circuit could not dismiss the claim of Samsung on the ground that the design patents owned by Apple were indivisible from the smart phone. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the matter by holding that the ‘Article of Manufacture’ is broad enough to embrace both a product sold to a consumer and a component of that product, whether sold separately or not. [Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., et al. v. Apple Inc., No. 15–777., decided on December 6, 2016]

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