Appeals court finds Samsung violated Apple's design patents, but not trade dress

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2015
An appeals court ruled on Monday that Samsung's $930 million penalty, stemming from its patent infringement suit with Apple, must be adjusted, in a mixed courtroom outcome for the iPhone maker.




The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit announced that it has affirmed a jury's verdict finding that Samsung violated Apple's design and utility patents. But the appeals court also ruled that Samsung did not infringe on Apple's trade dress intellectual property, and overturned the jury's findings on that issue.

"We therefore vacate the jury's damages awards against the Samsung products that were found liable for trade dress dilution and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion," the ruling states.

The appeals court also affirmed the district court's denial of Samsung's motions for a retrial. The decision means that Samsung's $930 million fine will be adjusted, and likely reduced, once the trade dress claims are removed from the judgement.

Design patents can cover specific, nonfunctional design elements. Trade dress patents, meanwhile, are more comprehensive.



In the initial trial, Apple had asserted a total of four trade tress, or product design, claims against Samsung. Three of them dealt with the iPhone, and one covered the iPad and iPad 2. Apple's trade dress for the iPhone was presented during the trial as:
  • A rectangular product with four evenly rounded corners
  • A flat, clear surface covering the front of the product
  • A display screen under the clear surface
  • Substantial neutral (black or white) borders above and below the display and narrower neutral borders on either side of the screen
  • On the display, a matrix of colorful square icons with evenly rounded corners
  • A dock at the bottom of the display
Samsung was first found guilty of infringement in 2012 and ordered to pay Apple $1.05 billion. Presiding Judge Lucy Koh then struck some $450 million off of that award and set a retrial to reassess the damages.

At the end of that process, Samsung ended up with a $930 million fine for patent infringement, which the South Korean company once again appealed.

The appeals court's full decision handed down Monday is included below:

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 90
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,581member
    How in the world can one say they did not violate trade dress when even their own lawyers couldn't tell the difference between an iPad and a Samsung tablet? Their Galaxy phone looked almost exactly like an iPhone, and even the packaging looked the same as the iPhone, down to the typeface used. The adapter was exactly the same as Apple's new and unique design.even their internal documents showed that they set out to copy the iPhone as exactly as they could. Ad infinitum. The system is broken and this scumbag company is now even more empowered to continue their illegal business practices as they thumb their nose at the rest of the world.
  • Reply 2 of 90
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,880member
    The US court system is still a joke. As the graphic shows, Samsung obviously copied the "trade dress" of iPhones after they were released. What else does the court system have to have to justify Apple's complaints? I bet Samsung will get off with a slap of the hand over design patents. Samsung has already done so much damage that Apple can't get back so no amount of money will be a fair amount for Apple. Samsung got away with it and the courts won't do what they really need to do: shut Samsung down.
  • Reply 3 of 90
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    What's the difference between trade dress and design patents? How could the court say Samsung violated one but not the other?
  • Reply 4 of 90
    ceek74ceek74 Posts: 315member
    But Samsung does sooooooo much for Marshall, TX. Or Maybe not enough!?
  • Reply 5 of 90
    mystigomystigo Posts: 102member
    I bet if Samsung were to sue Apple for trade-dress violations, they would win a multi-billion dollar award which would be tripled on appeal and would have to pay a court croney millions of dollars a year to "keep an eye on them". Apple just can't get a break with these courts.
  • Reply 6 of 90
    ecatsecats Posts: 272member
    This is going to cost samsung another ice skating rink.
  • Reply 7 of 90
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,515member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    Who give a crap.

     

    The lawsuits have done their job: Showed that Samsung is a copycat company not an elite innovator.

     

    Just look at how their profits have dipped 75% the last 2 years.

     

    Mission accomplished.


    Agree wholeheartedly. The loss of face, reputation, and hence market value for Samsung is worth many multiples of this belated, useless bit of legal kabuki from Koh.

  • Reply 8 of 90
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,515member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    gotta pay to play.

     

    Apple ready needs to increase political donations big time.

     

    Its not that Apple is trying to buy favors.  All they need to is buy fair treatment.


    This is an overwrought statement. There is really no evidence to back this up. Who is Samsung contributing to?

  • Reply 9 of 90
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,735member
    rogifan wrote: »
    What's the difference between trade dress and design patents? How could the court say Samsung violated one but not the other?
    Design patents apply to very specific elements. Trade dress is the overall design, "appearances", and not necessarily protected by any specific patents. FWIW about $384M of the total judgement will likely be vacated, but that still leaves Sammy owing a pretty good bundle o' cash.

    The news that Apple probably likes more than anything is the denial of a retrial.
  • Reply 10 of 90
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,679member

    Did Samsung copy every item of the trade dress IP?  If some item Samsun did not copy then strictly Samsun did not violate Apple rights.  Because the consumer can see/feel the product is not an Apple product.  OTOH, if Samsung completely copied every item in one product, then it is a violation.

  • Reply 11 of 90
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Design patents apply to very specific elements. Trade dress is the overall design, "appearances", and not necessarily protected by any specific patents. FWIW about $384M of the total judgement will likely be vacated, but that still leaves Sammy owing a pretty good bundle o' cash.

    The news that Apple probably likes more than anything is the denial of a retrial.

    Seems to me then this validates Apple's design patents as being about more than just rounded rectangles.
  • Reply 12 of 90
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,735member
    rogifan wrote: »
    Seems to me then this validates Apple's design patents as being about more than just rounded rectangles.
    It does. None of the patents they asserted were about rounded rectangles either.

    Note that Apple does have one that is literally only a rounded rectangle of undetermined size, absolutely nothing else, but are wise enough not to try using it in a legal suit. It would never survive a challenge IMO and probably Apple's too.
  • Reply 13 of 90
    john12345john12345 Posts: 152member

    This money means nothing for Apple.  They've returned over $100B to the shareholders in the past few years.

     

    At least the court upheld the patent violations.   This is still a bad news for Samsung.   There were lot of samsung defenders saying the jury was tainted/biased/don't know what they're doing/etc after the initial judgement.   They can't use this excuse anymore.   

  • Reply 14 of 90
    sacto joesacto joe Posts: 618member
    tzeshan wrote: »
    Did Samsung copy every item of the trade dress IP?  If some item Samsun did not copy then strictly Samsun did not violate Apple rights.  Because the consumer can see/feel the product is not an Apple product.  OTOH, if Samsung completely copied every item in one product, then it is a violation.
    Who decided that? A panel of "judges" who didn't agree that "trade dress" was meaningful? This decision makes a mockery of the whole concept of trade dress. In effect, it's saying the only thing illegal is a counterfeit that looks EXACTLY like the original!
  • Reply 15 of 90
    tooltalktooltalk Posts: 766member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FreeRange View Post



    How in the world can one say they did not violate trade dress when even their own lawyers couldn't tell the difference between an iPad and a Samsung tablet? Their Galaxy phone looked almost exactly like an iPhone, and even the packaging looked the same as the iPhone, down to the typeface used. The adapter was exactly the same as Apple's new and unique design.even their internal documents showed that they set out to copy the iPhone as exactly as they could. Ad infinitum. The system is broken and this scumbag company is now even more empowered to continue their illegal business practices as they thumb their nose at the rest of the world.

     

    @freerange : Apple lost on all tablet design claims completely, everywhere.  In the UK, Apple was even ordered to publicly acknowledge this and Apple's hometown jury also rejected Apple tablet claims back in 2012.  That was not likewise part of the appeal this time around.

  • Reply 16 of 90
    The stolen trade dress is plainly obvious; justice is truly blind. Still, Apple at the very least won a moral victory.
  • Reply 17 of 90
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    It does. None of the patents they asserted were about rounded rectangles either.

    Note that Apple does have one that is literally only a rounded rectangle of undetermined size, absolutely nothing else, but are wise enough not to try using it in a legal suit. It would never survive a challenge IMO and probably Apple's too.

    I guess someone should have clued in Samsung. I suspect they knew better though I'm sure they thought getting the media, especially the tech press to go with this meme would be beneficial.
  • Reply 18 of 90
    tooltalktooltalk Posts: 766member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    What's the difference between trade dress and design patents? How could the court say Samsung violated one but not the other?

     

    @Rogifan : according to the Ninth circuit: 

     

    "... has explained that “[t]rade dress is the totality of elements in which a product or service is packaged or presented." 

     

    the key word here is the "totality."  Designs patents are for particular design element.

  • Reply 19 of 90
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,347member
    IMO, Apple should be buying up more patents that are technological in nature and be less concerned with the design patents, which are easily duplicated. Buy up those companies that have fundamental patents that make batteries, radios and connectivity more robust.
  • Reply 20 of 90
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,735member
    IMO, Apple should be buying up more patents that are technological in nature and be less concerned with the design patents, which are easily duplicated. Buy up those companies that have fundamental patents that make batteries, radios and connectivity more robust.
    IMO it could end up hurting tech overall if Apple is the only one left standing. They're doing quite fine without owning everything in sight, plus with competition it helps them avoid antitrust issues for the most part.
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