The Great Battle Between Apple and Samsung

The significant judicial battle pitting Apple against its resentful rival Samsung over the design of the iPhone enters a new level today when it goes to the US Supreme Court. The high court is set to hear reasoning over financial damages the South Korean Smartphone monster owes Apple for supposedly infringing design patents by producing copycats of its groundbreaking Smartphone.

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Spectators are watching the case closely to see how the court — which has not taken up a design copyright case in more than a centenary — tips the judgment between technological modernization and protecting intellectual assets. A verdict is expected in many months. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a USD 400 million decision — part of a nearly billion-dollar award in Apple’s favour later reduced to USD 548 million — that found Samsung had imitated the iPhone’s distinctive front screen and graphical touch screen user interface.


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California-based Apple had defended those peculiarities with US design patents that concern the way items look. They are different from utility patents, which protect how articles are used and act, and do not bother copyrights or trademarks. Samsung is challenging the opinion, debating how damages are calculated in design patent cases. Such awards are currently defined by devices’ “total profit,” in accordance with a law first adopted in 1887 and re-adopted in 1952.

Samsung debates it should be held accountable only for some part of the profit tied to copyrighted design aspects, given the many innovative segments that go into the making of smart phones. Apple describes the law more closely, saying it is authorized to all profits from Samsung’s phones.


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The judicial battle, which began more than five years ago, could have major consequences in a tech industry where design and innovation perform key roles in identifying one device from another. But a major dispute is underway on just how much assurance should be granted for visual design.

In preparation for its reasons before the Supreme Court, Samsung gained the support of influential Silicon Valley and other IT sector giants, incorporating Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Google and Facebook, as well as a society of law professors.

Apple, for its part, got strengthening from big names in manufacturing and fashion, such as Calvin Klein and Adidas, and the American Genius Property Law Association, whose members — largely lawyers — represent entrepreneurs and users of intellectual property.

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