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Supreme Court Reverses Apple's $399 Million Award in Samsung Phone Design Lawsuit [Updated With Apple Statement]


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of Samsung in its longstanding smartphone design lawsuit with Apple, reversing a $399 million damages judgment awarded to Apple by a lower court. The case will now return to the U.S. Court of Appeals for further proceedings.

Supreme Court judges unanimously decided they do not have enough info to say whether damages paid to Apple should be based on the total device, or rather individual components like the front bezel or the screen. It urged the U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider the $399 million penalty Samsung paid in 2012.
Absent adequate briefing by the parties, this Court declines to resolve whether the relevant article of manufacture for each design patent at issue here is the smartphone or a particular smartphone component. Doing so is not necessary to resolve the question presented, and the Federal Circuit may address any remaining issues on remand.
The lawsuit dates back to 2011, when Apple successfully sued Samsung for infringing upon the iPhone's patented design, including its rectangular front face with rounded edges and grid of colorful icons on a black screen. Apple's damages were awarded based on Samsung's entire profit from the sale of its infringing smartphones.

Calvin Klein, Dieter Rams, Norman Foster, and over 100 other top designers backed Apple in August, arguing the iPhone maker is entitled to all profits Samsung has earned from infringing designs. They cited a 1949 study showing more than 99% of Americans could identify a bottle of Coca-Cola by shape alone.

Update: Apple has provided a statement on the ruling to TechCrunch, stating that the company will continue to protect the work that's gone into the iPhone's design.
The question before the Supreme Court was how to calculate the amount Samsung should pay for their copying. Our case has always been about Samsung's blatant copying of our ideas, and that was never in dispute. We will continue to protect the years of hard work that has made iPhone the world's most innovative and beloved product. We remain optimistic that the lower courts will again send a powerful signal that stealing isn't right.

Article Link: Supreme Court Reverses Apple's $399 Million Award in Samsung Phone Design Lawsuit [Updated With Apple Statement]


macrumors 68000
Dec 17, 2010
Sacramento, CA

Supreme Court = sorry everybody, our bad...

you know I've been sitting here looking at this screen to complete this joke but I just can't, maybe its too early, maybe the coffee hasn't kicked in....i dunno. Well sorry you've been reading this and wasting your time...Ill try better next time.
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macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
Central U.S.
I like Samsung's strategy of destroying their entire business to get sympathy with the supreme court.

In all seriousness though, why is this still ongoing? Our legal system is fundamentally broken. Everything from patents to putting rapists in jail for a month and potheads in jail for years.


macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
In between a rock and a hard place
Big win for those who enjoy stealing other's hard work.
Shortsighted. I have repeatedly said this is a win for Samsung but a much, much bigger win for Apple and the tech industry in general. In a previous thread, I posited that if Apple hadn't been party to this lawsuit, they would have filed an amicus brief in support of Samsung in this case; just like most of the tech world did. I still believe it.

This ruling hurts patent trolls who were looking for outsized awards against big companies like Apple. It makes the prospect of suing for large paydays less likely and less attractive. I look at it as if Apple lost a battle, but Apple and the entire tech industry won a war.

edit: seems MR updated the article with more relevant info. Full device vs. component damages is still open somewhat. SCOTUS determined the lower court did not interpret the relevant law correctly.
"This case involves the infringement of designs for smartphones. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit identified the entire smartphone as the only permissible “article of manufacture” for the purpose of calculating §289 damages because consumers could not separately purchase components of the smartphones. The question before us is whether that reading is consistent with §289. We hold that it is not." - excerpt from court decision

My point remains. Apple should want to lose this case. It's better for them in the long run.
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macrumors 68040
Sep 26, 2007
Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy...

If you're stealing ideas from Apple, is the result innovative?


macrumors newbie
Oct 5, 2011
wow 8-0 decision? i don't think any case in the history of supreme court has an all in favor of one party. 99 percent of the cases has a decision around 5-4 but damn 8-0?

Forgive me if I'm missing the sarcasm. But, in case you are serious, 8-0 (9-0) decisions happen often enough.

[edited to remove incorrect reference to "per curiam"]
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