Samsung’s main patent battle with Apple made its way through the United States federal court system for almost five years before the Korean giant finally decided to approach the Supreme Court. It was evident from the get go that whatever the apex court decided, it would be a landmark decision given that the United States Supreme Court has not ruled on a designed patent case in more than a century.
The ruling has been handed down today. Samsung has defeated Apple. It was a unanimous decision, 8-0, in favor of Samsung as the justices ruled the violation of design patents may only involve a component and not the entire product. This means that Apple can’t claim all proceedings from an infringing device. The appeals court ruling which said that Samsung had copied key iPhone designs and awarded Apple $399 million damages has been thrown out. The Supreme Court has now sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.
This lawsuit started in 2011 and Apple was initially awarded $1 billion. Samsung was able to get the amount reduced through subsequent appeals. The company paid Apple $548 million in damages last December but said that it reserved the right to claim or obtain reimbursement of any or all of the amount if the judgment was modified, reversed or set aside entirely. The Supreme Court ruling gives Samsung a chance of getting back almost half a billion dollars from Apple.
The Supreme Court has ruled that a patent violator doesn’t have to give all of the profits from the sales of an infringing device if the infringement was limited to certain components and not the entire device. This ruling is going to have a ripple effect on the technology industry as it was one of the most closely watched patent battles in history, the history which will now remember Samsung as the victor.