U.S. Supreme Court backs Samsung in smartphone fight with Apple

Tue Dec 6, 2016 7:55pm EST
 
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By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with Samsung in its big-money smartphone patent fight with Apple, throwing out an appeals court ruling that the South Korean company had to pay a $399 million penalty to its American rival for copying key iPhone designs.

The 8-0 ruling, written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, held that a patent violator does not always have to fork over its entire profits from the sales of products using stolen designs, if the designs covered only certain components and not the whole thing.

The justices sent the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington to determine how much Samsung must pay. But they did not provide a road map to juries and lower courts on how to navigate similar disputes in the future.

Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock said in a statement that the U.S. company remained "optimistic that the lower courts will again send a powerful signal that stealing isn't right."

Samsung told Reuters in a statement the ruling was a "victory for Samsung and for all those who promote creativity, innovation and fair competition in the marketplace."

Following a 2012 jury verdict favoring Apple, Samsung initially was hit with nearly $930 million in penalties, later cut by $382 million, for infringing Apple's iPhone patents and mimicking its distinctive appearance in making the Galaxy and other competing devices.

Samsung in December 2015 paid its Cupertino, California-based rival $548 million. But Samsung took the matter to the Supreme Court, saying it should not have had to make $399 million of that payout for copying the patented designs of the iPhone's rounded-corner front face, bezel and colorful grid of icons that represent programs and applications.

With the products that used iPhone designs, Samsung went on to become the world's top smartphone maker.   Continued...

 
3D-printed Samsung and Apple logos are seen in this picture illustration made in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina on January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic