Supreme Court grills Apple, Samsung

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Supreme Court grills Apple, Samsung over value of design patents

“Even the US Supreme Court justices were a little befuddled over what to do with the legal saga between Apple and Samsung.

The two largest phone makers in the world squared off in the highest court in the land Tuesday over the value of design patents, marking the likely conclusion to a long-running battle that goes back to a 2012 case.

One nuance of the case — how jurors were supposed to break out the value of a design from the overall product — was a source of most of the questions. The justices wanted to know what instructions the jury would be given when looking at damages.

‘If I were the juror, I simply wouldn’t know what to do,’ Justice Anthony Kennedy said several times during the hour-long hearing here in Washington, DC.

The justices used the analogy of a Volkswagen Beetle in their questioning to understand the positions of Apple, Samsung and the Justice Department.

Some justices pointed out that the VW Beetle’s design is what makes that car different from all the others, but Justice Samuel Alito remarked that some people don’t care what a car looks like but instead want good gas mileage or other features.

A decision by the court, which is hearing its first design case since the 1800s, could have a ripple effect across the technology industry and ultimately affect the gadgets you buy. What’s at question is how much money one company has to pay for copying the designs of another. Current law says an award can be collected on the entire profits of an infringing device. In this case, that’s the $399 million Samsung paid Apple late last year.

The Supreme Court will likely rule on this case in the first quarter.”


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