Despite the $548M settlement reached earlier this month, Samsung has now asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of its patent battle with Apple, reports the WSJ. The company is arguing that lower courts misapplied the law concerning Apple’s design patents.
Specifically, Samsung is asking the court to review rulings concerning “design patents” that cover the look and feel of a product. At trial, Apple convinced the jury that basic design elements of certain Samsung smartphones—essentially a rectangle with rounded corners and a touch-screen grid made up of smaller icons—borrowed too closely from Apple’s iPhone design.
Samsung argues that lower courts made two mistakes …
First, suggests the company’s lawyers, the judge failed to properly instruct the jury on the difference between ‘functional’ and ‘ornamental’ features. Samsung said that its smartphones had to adopt the same general form factor as the iPhone in order to perform the function of a smartphone.
“The jury could look at Apple’s patented designs, look at Samsung’s phones, see that both have rectangular shapes, rounded corners, flat screens and colorful icon grids, and decide, voilà, that there must be design-patent infringement—even though those shared features are…functional, not ornamental,” wrote Samsung’s lawyers, in the brief.
Second, the company says that the damages awarded were too high.
In Samsung’s eyes, according to Monday’s court filing, it was wrongly ordered to pay Apple all of its profit from infringing profits. Samsung says the 1887 law pertaining to design patents is outdated and too punitive for modern products such as a smartphone, which Samsung says contains about 250,000 design and utility patents.
The company likened the case to a car company being ordered to hand over all its profits on a car if the company was found to have copied a patented cupholder.
The U.S. Supreme Court will need to decide whether or not to hear the case. CNET quotes Stanford Law School intellectual property law professor Mark Lemley as stating that asking the court to take on a case “is always an uphill battle, but this is a very high-profile case.” The court may be influenced by the fact that Google, Facebook and others have sided with Samsung, though Apple has said that Google is not a disinterested party.
If the Supreme Court does agree to hear the case, it will be rather busy with Apple-related cases: Apple has asked it to hear the final appeal of the ebook trial. Apple recently got the backing of authors and booksellers, who argue that Amazon rather than Apple should have been investigated.
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