Samsung’s $120 million win in a patent lawsuit against Apple might have been overturned recently but that’s not the main dispute it has with the Cupertino company. The main case has made its way through the federal court system in the United States for almost five years and has inevitably landed at the United States Supreme Court. Whatever decision the court hands down, it’s going to be a landmark decision because the United States Supreme Court has not taken up a design patent case in more than a century.
This case was first filed back in 2011. Apple was awarded damages of more than $1 billion which Samsung was able to bring down through subsequent appeals. Samsung announced last December that it will pay $548 million in damages to Apple while reserving rights to reclaim or obtain reimbursement of any amounts if the judgement is reversed, modified or set aside on appeal. The question before the apex court now is to address how damages are calculated in design patent cases. Damages are currently calculated based on the total profit of an infringing device.
Samsung’s position on the matter is that Apple shouldn’t be entitled to all of the profits from infringing devices even if a portion of the device infringes on its patents even though that’s how the law has been interpreted over the years. Apple’s stance is that those Samsung devices were merely efforts to copy the iPhone and that the existing method of calculating damages is correct.
The United States Supreme Court is going to hear oral arguments from Apple and Samsung later today, we might get a sense of its thinking via its questions, but it may take several months for the justices to hand down a written decision that will most certainly have an impact on the entire industry.