People in New Jersey who have been following the ongoing legal battle between smartphone giants Apple and Samsung may be interested in learning that the case will be moving on to the Supreme Court of the United States. On March 21, the nation's highest court agreed to hear the case.
Filed by Apple against Samsung, the case alleges that the Korean company infringed on Apple's design patents for its smartphones. Lower courts have ruled in Apple's favor, resulting in an agreement between the companies that Samsung would pay Apple $548 million in damages. However, with the Supreme Court's agreement to hear the case, it is possible Samsung will not have to pay at least a portion of that amount, as the court will determine whether that penalty was excessive.
Design patents are granted for the design and look of a product. Apple has alleged in its intellectual property lawsuit that Samsung copied its patented design with its own smartphones. A federal jury in California originally ruled in Apple's favor, and a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., upheld much of that decision along with most of the awarded damages. Samsung is arguing that the damages award previously given essentially gives Apple 100 percent of the profits Samsung garnered from its smartphones that used the design features even if it only made up 1 percent of the phones' value.
Patent law provides important protections to companies. When a design is patented, other companies may not use it for a specified period of time after the patent is obtained. When that is violated, the company that owns the intellectual property may file a lawsuit against the infringing business in order to try to recoup damages for the losses suffered as a result.
Source: USA Today, "Supreme Court will weigh Samsung-Apple patent battle," Kevin McCoy, March 21, 2016.