Supreme Court Unanimously Bails Out Samsung? Not so fast…

by John Roberts on December 7, 2016

For the first time in 120 years the Supreme Court today delved into the murky waters of design patent law. The Court ruled in Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple that an “article of manufacture” is not necessarily the whole product. This is important because under design patent law an infringer must turn over its profits on the patented “article of manufacture.” In view of today’s decision, Samsung is now free to argue on remand that it should only be liable for its profits on some components of its phones, as opposed to its profits on the entire phones.

But the impact of this victory is unclear, because there will still be arguments about what components are patented here, and how much of their profits should be attributed to those components,
where the design patents appear to cover the overall ornamental appearance of the modern smart phone. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake; stay tuned!

John Roberts


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