U.S. top court to hear Apple-Samsung feud over iPhone designs

Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:15am EDT
 
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By Andrew Chung

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After five years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday in the bitter patent dispute between the world's two top smartphone manufacturers over the amount Samsung (005930.KS: Quote) should pay Apple (AAPL.O: Quote) for copying the iPhone's distinctive look.

The justices' ruling, due by the end of June, could have a long-term impact for designers and product manufacturers going forward because the Supreme Court, if it agrees with Samsung, could limit the penalties for swiping a patented design.

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd paid Apple Inc $548.2 million last December, fulfilling part of its liability stemming from a 2012 verdict for infringing Apple's iPhone patents and copying its look.

But Samsung will argue before the Supreme Court that it should not have had to make as much as $399 million of that payout for infringement of three patented designs on the iPhone's rounded-corner front face, its bezel and the colorful grid of icons that represent programs and applications.

It will be the Supreme Court's first case involving design patents in more than 120 years, when the products at issue were carpets and rugs.

Cupertino, California-based Apple sued its South Korean rival in 2011, claiming Samsung stole its technology and the iPhone's trademarked appearance.

Samsung has said it should not have had to fork over all of its profits on phones that infringed the patents, which contributed only marginally to a complex product with thousands of patented features.

Apple has said Samsung was properly penalized for ripping off its work.   Continued...

 
A sales assistant uses her mobile phone next to the company logos of Apple and Samsung at a store in Hefei, Anhui province September 10, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer