The Supreme Court to create new Design Patent Rules for the Lower Court, not Rule on the Case (Transcript Available)
Yesterday Patently Apple posted a report titled "U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments from Apple and Samsung, Hints that Design can drive a Sale of a Phone," which provided a broad overview of the main arguments. For those wishing to review the full arguments before the court in this case could review the transcript provided to you at the end of this report.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported this morning that "The Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared frustrated over how to resolve a high-stakes battle between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., indicating it may not provide final resolution of how much money the South Korean electronics company owes for infringing patents on the iPhone's design.
The high court took the case to decide whether a company can be required to pay all of its profits on products that infringe someone else's patented design, or whether infringement damages should be limited only to the portion of profits specifically attributable to the design of a device.
As the morning session unfolded, justices across the bench suggested that neither Apple nor Samsung had argued for an approach that would better help jurors decide the appropriate compensation to patent holders when someone copies their distinct designs.
'It seems to me neither side gives us an instruction to work with,' Justice Anthony Kennedy said. 'If I were a juror, I wouldn't know what to do.'
Apple and Samsung didn't appear to disagree deeply on the type of legal rules that should govern damages for design patents. Instead, their clash was mostly about how those rules should apply to the specific facts of their smartphone litigation.
The justices made clear they were less concerned with that issue, suggesting they will come up with new rules and then give lower court judges the first opportunity to apply them to the iPhone fight."
The Obama administration participated in Tuesday's argument. Justice Department lawyer Brian Fletcher said a monetary damages rule that automatically awarded total profits for an entire product had the potential to overcompensate patent holders in some circumstances. Mr. Fletcher said both Samsung and Apple seemed to agree on this basic point."
In this case, Apple's next-gen smartphone design was absolutely dramatic and new by eliminating physical phone pad and function keys that made a phone look like a mobile calculator. Apple's dramatic design was a visual winner in the eyes of consumers worldwide. A simple clean slate with an all-GUI approach to a smartphone created a new approach to functions through apps and a multitouch display. Samsung's phone was a clunky design jammed packed with ugly physical buttons. Racing to copy Apple's design is what this is really about. Their smartphone design was a loser and they decided to steal Apple's design. The design isn't just about dumbing the argument down to round corners, though for this case it plays a central argument. Apple's design and approach to the smartphone struck a chord with consumers and the rest is history.
From what was argued yesterday, it doesn't look like the Supreme Court will actually rule on the specifics of this case but rather hand down to the lower court new rules and guidelines that they could use to instruct the jury with for final decision. As Apple argued, the jury has already sided with Apple. For more on this, read the full WSJ report here.
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