Supreme Court Reverses Apple's $399 Million Award in Samsung Phone Design Lawsuit [Updated With Apple Statement]
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of Samsung in its longstanding smartphone design lawsuit with Apple, reversing a $399 million damages judgment awarded to Apple by a lower court. The case will now return to the U.S. Court of Appeals for further proceedings.
Supreme Court judges unanimously decided they do not have enough info to say whether damages paid to Apple should be based on the total device, or rather individual components like the front bezel or the screen. It urged the U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider the $399 million penalty Samsung paid in 2012.
Absent adequate briefing by the parties, this Court declines to resolve whether the relevant article of manufacture for each design patent at issue here is the smartphone or a particular smartphone component. Doing so is not necessary to resolve the question presented, and the Federal Circuit may address any remaining issues on remand.
The lawsuit dates back to 2011, when Apple successfully sued Samsung for infringing upon the iPhone's patented design, including its rectangular front face with rounded edges and grid of colorful icons on a black screen. Apple's damages were awarded based on Samsung's entire profit from the sale of its infringing smartphones.
Calvin Klein, Dieter Rams, Norman Foster, and over 100 other top designers backed Apple in August, arguing the iPhone maker is entitled to all profits Samsung has earned from infringing designs. They cited a 1949 study showing more than 99% of Americans could identify a bottle of Coca-Cola by shape alone.
Update: Apple has provided a statement on the ruling to TechCrunch, stating that the company will continue to protect the work that's gone into the iPhone's design.
The question before the Supreme Court was how to calculate the amount Samsung should pay for their copying. Our case has always been about Samsung’s blatant copying of our ideas, and that was never in dispute. We will continue to protect the years of hard work that has made iPhone the world’s most innovative and beloved product. We remain optimistic that the lower courts will again send a powerful signal that stealing isn’t right.