With its media event set to take place in a few hours, and its face-off with the FBI in court tomorrow — it’s a big week for Apple. But it’s not the only thing on the iPhone maker’s mind — the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from Samsung about the Korean manufacturer’s long-running legal dispute with the Cupertino company.
The issue stems from Apple’s complaint that Samsung has infringed on parts of the iPhone’s design, and the legal back-and-forth dates back to 2011. Last December, Samsung finally agreed to pay $548 million, but reserved the right to appeal to the Supreme Court. More recently in February of 2016, Samsung won a big victory, on separate claims, when a U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a famous May 2014 ruling that ordered the Korean giant to cough up $119.6 million for infringing on Apple’s patents. Apple didn’t win the May ruling outright, as the court said Apple infringed on some patents as well.
Samsung’s appeal to the Supreme Court consists of two questions: “Whether the court of appeals correctly ruled that the district court did not commit reversible error in instructing the jury regarding the scope of Apple’s design patent claims;” and “Whether 35 U.S.C. § 289, which provides that a party that infringes a design patent may be held ‘liable … to the extent of his total profit,’ permitted the jury to award damages equal to Samsung’s total profit from its devices that infringed Apple’s design patents.”
It’s not all good news for Samsung as the Supreme Court has only agreed to take the second question, which essentially boils down to whether the amount paid for the infringements was too excessive, according to @SCOTUSblog. By passing on the first question, it seems that the Supreme Court will not focus too much on the scope of the design patents themselves.
Samsung still appreciates the Supreme Court’s decision, a spokesperson for the company said.
“We thank the many large technology companies, 37 intellectual property professors, and several groups representing small business, which have supported our position,” the company wrote in a blogpost. “The Court’s review of this case can lead to a fair interpretation of patent law that will support creativity and reward innovation.”
Apple filed a brief urging the Supreme Court not to take the case, contending that “Samsung had its day in court — many days, in fact — and the properly instructed jury was well justified in finding that Samsung copied Apple’s designs and should pay the damages that the statute expressly authorizes.”