Samsung Appeals to Supreme Court Over Feud With Apple Dealing With Design Patents

Posted by Katie Kim.

In the technology industry, two leading companies may be heading to the Supreme Court over the design of smartphones. There is no confirmation of whether or not the case will be accepted, but the Supreme Court has not taken a design patent in over a century.

A few weeks ago, Samsung agreed to pay Apple $548 million in damages over a design patent but did not agree to it as part of a settlement. Apple took Samsung to court on the grounds that Samsung intentionally and knowingly copied Apple’s iPhone designs. Apple prides themselves on their innovation and when the threat of copycats infringe on their innovations it takes away from their profits. Apple submitted evidence that showed the evolution of the Samsung product increasingly resembled the Apple iPhone

At trial, Apple convinced the jury that some of the designs Samsung used on their smartphones, like the rounded rectangular corners and touch screen made of smaller icons, were taken from and patented by Apple.

On the other hand, Samsung argued that the law under design patents was misapplied. The law is meant to protect “ornamental” features that are not part of the products intended function. Samsung lawyers feel that this should have been made clear to the jury.

On Monday, Samsung filled an appeal to the Supreme Court. The company argues that the legal framework behind designed patents is flawed and out dated for the modern digital world. “The law was written for a time long before the smartphone was invented,” said Mark A. Lemley, a law professor and director of the Stanford University program in law, science and technology. If Samsung is left to stand with a sweeping rule against it then it will “lead to absurd results and have a devastating impact on companies.”

Katie is an accounting and finance major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2018.