Yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed a decision of the Federal Circuit in the long-running iPhone litigation between Apple and Samsung and we, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), welcomed it. The Federal Circuit had held that when a design patent is infringed, the plaintiff is entitled to the total profits from the infringing product—even where the infringing product has many components. The lower court had permitted Apple to recover all of the profits from the sale of infringing Samsung Galaxy phones, despite the fact that the allegedly infringed elements were minor ornamental components of the overall product.
For the past several years, SIIA has been trying to persuade Congress to change patent law to make it more difficult for non-practicing entities (e.g., trolls) to shake down technology businesses. What we don’t need is additional court decisions that make matters worse. To that end, SIIA, along with several leading tech companies, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court urging it to reverse the Federal Circuit’s decision in Apple v. Samsung. (For those of you that are curious, the Federal Circuit decision is here).
Apple and Samsung have been battling in court for the past several years over design patents, which cover only non-functional aesthetic elements of a particular product. A person who uses that design without an authorization is an infringer, in the same way that someone who used Apple’s “slide to unlock” feature without a license would owe them a royalty. Where the two kinds of patents ...
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