Apple-Samsung iPhone patent feud leaves U.S. top court struggling

Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:13pm EDT
 
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By Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The fierce, big-money patent fight between Apple and Samsung left the U.S. Supreme Court groping for a solution on Tuesday, as the justices puzzled over how to discern the value of individual design elements in a complex product like an iPhone.

The eight justices heard arguments in Samsung's bid to pare back $399 million of $548 million it paid Apple in December following a 2012 jury verdict finding that it infringed Apple's iPhone patents and copied its distinctive appearance in making the Galaxy and other competing devices.

The $399 million penalty stemmed specifically from Samsung's violation of three Apple patents on the design of the iPhone's rounded-corner front face, bezel and colorful grid of icons that represent programs and applications.

While the justices signaled a willingness to reduce the potentially huge penalties imposed for ripping off someone else's patented design, some expressed skepticism over how, in practice, juries could figure out the importance of a specific design trait in a product in order to calculate damages.

"If I were a juror, I wouldn't know what to do," Justice Anthony Kennedy said.

Several justices struggled with how they would devise a test for lower courts and juries to use to determine design patent damages.

BEETLE COMPARISON   Continued...

 
Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S4 (L) and Apple's iPhone 5 are seen in this picture illustration taken in Seoul, South Korea May 13, 2013.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo