Press Release

Public Knowledge Statement on Samsung v. Apple Argument at Supreme Court

October 11, 2016 , ,

Today, the United States Supreme Court heard argument in the case Samsung v. Apple. The case concerns the measure of damages to be awarded to an owner of a design patent, particularly when the product infringing that patent is a multi-feature product with features unrelated to the design patent.

The following may be attributed to Charles Duan, Director of the Patent Reform Project at Public Knowledge:

“The argument this morning reflected the Supreme Court’s deep concern for balanced patent law that provides an appropriate measure of damages to patent owners without overcompensating them with a windfall. The justices largely seemed to agree that awarding damages for an entire complex product, like a smartphone, is inappropriate for a design patent that covers only a small portion of that product, and sought to craft a rule of law that would more correctly balance the interests of patent owners and product manufacturers.

“Specifically, the justices and the parties coalesced around a two-part test, under which a court would first determine which part of the device was the relevant part with respect to the design patent, and then would determine what fraction of the product’s profits were attributable to that relevant part rather than to the rest of the device overall.

“During the argument, the justices repeatedly rebuffed attempts to bring in specific facts of the Apple-Samsung litigation, instead preferring to discuss larger questions of law and policy. We take this as a positive sign that the Court is carefully considering the implications of this case, and the patent system overall, to industry and consumer welfare.”

You may read our amicus brief for this case as well as our latest blog post, “Apple v. Samsung Before the Supreme Court: Fair Payment and Consequences to Innovation.”