Apple-Samsung iPhone design copying case goes to jury
SILICON VALLEY - Agence France-Presse
The jury has been asked to determine whether design features at issue in the case are worth all profit made from Samsung smartphones that copied them or whether those features are worth just a fraction because they are components.
The three design patents in the case apply to the shape of the iPhone’s black screen with rounded edges and a bezel, and the rows of colorful icons displayed.
Samsung no longer sells the smartphone models at issue in the case.
Two utility patents also involved apply to “bounce-back” and “tap-to-zoom” functions.
When one company copies a rival’s design, that “is not a level playing field, and that is just not right,” he contended.
Apple attorney Bill Lee equated the notion to a carmaker copying the look of the Volkswagen Beetle and coming to market with a competing model.
Determining whether the design features qualify as the “article of manufacture” will be key to whether jurors award the profit from all the Samsung phones involved, according to legal standards presented by the court.
The case dates back seven years. An original trial finding that Samsung violated Apple patents was followed by lengthy appellate dueling over whether design features such as rounded edges are worth all the money made from a phone.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 overturned the $400 million patent infringement penalty imposed on the South Korean consumer electronics giant.
The ruling found that the penalty -- one element of a major patent infringement case -- was inappropriate because it represented “Samsung’s entire profit from the sale of its infringing smartphones” for copying the iPhone’s “rectangular front face with rounded edges and a grid of colorful icons on a black screen.”
Samsung won the backing of major Silicon Valley and other IT sector giants, including Google, Facebook, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, claiming a strict ruling on design infringement could lead to a surge in litigation.
Apple was supported by big names in fashion and manufacturing. Design professionals, researchers and academics, citing precedents like Coca-Cola’s iconic soda bottle.
Presiding U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh gave jurors in her San Jose courtroom a four-factor test to determine an “article of manufacture,” but it is up to the panel to decide how the evidence fits that framework.
The case is one element of a $548 million penalty -- knocked down from an original $1 billion jury award -- Samsung was ordered to pay for copying iPhone patents.