US Supreme Court shows flexibility in first day of Apple v. Samsung case

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in iPhone
In hearing initial arguments from Apple and Samsung, justices for the U.S. Supreme Court hinted at some willingness to consider Samsung's position as it fights for reduced damages in a case over infringed iPhone design patents.









Out of the court's eight justices, several expressed skepticism that they could create a test for lower courts and juries that could be used to calculate damages based on design patents, according to Reuters.



"If I were a juror, I wouldn't know what to do," said Justice Anthony Kennedy.



Another justice, Elena Kagan, used the analogy of a Volkswagen Beetle, commenting that it might be difficult for a jury to decide what to award in a case based on the car's unique shape, even if it might be main reason some shoppers were buying it.



That view is similar to one expressed by Samsung, which is challenging $399 million out of the $548.2 million it has already paid out to Apple in the lawsuit -- the first figure being for violating three patents on the bezel, front face, and homescreen of the iPhone. That sum was based on all of the profits from infringing phones, but Samsung is contending that should've only paid a smaller amount, likening the situation to forfeiting all of the profits from a car because the cupholder is infringing.



Apple has claimed that the infringed patents were closer to the design of an entire car, and that in lower courts Samsung failed to show that the patents were relevant to just parts of its devices.



The Supreme Court should issue a final ruling by the end of June. The outcome could have serious ramifications for Apple and Samsung, for instance affecting Apple's attempts to collect another $180 million, and theoretically a federal appeals court ruling which reinstated $119.6 million in damages against Samsung for violating a "slide-to-unlock" patent.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    So if they can't decide on the value of design in driving phone sales, then reduce the amount to 150 million or whatever Samsung is arguing BUT increase the amount for willful infringement to 10X the amount of the award. 1.5 billion sounds more right. Samsung thought they could rip off the design BECAUSE this was a gray area and that there would be a 'fine' that they afford AND still make a lot of money. Total disregard for the intent of patents and US law. Now we see how they regard consumer safety with their phone that catches fire and intentional delays in a recall. They should be taught a lesson. A big lesson.
    rob53magman1979badmonklolliverdavensabornietocaliaderutterpalominejony0
  • Reply 2 of 19
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,304member
    This stuff is such a waste of everybody's time and money. Or maybe the court system is just too darn slow!
    wookie01jony0
  • Reply 3 of 19
    There have been some good comments from the judges. When one talks about assigning too much value to a single design patent vs hundreds of other patents another judge replied "The thing that makes the product distinctive might not cost very much,".

    Bingo. Just because a device is complex and made up of many parts doesn't mean that's the reason consumers buy it. First impressions, looks and design are important as well.
    tmaybadmonklolliverai46caliaderutterjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 19
    I'm not sure what was intended to be implied by the reference in the title to the "first day" of the case. But just to be clear, as is typical with Supreme Court cases, there was only one hour of oral argument scheduled in this case. On rare occasions the Court decides that it wants to consider a legal issue that wasn't sufficiently addressed in the initial briefing and oral argument, so it asks for additional briefing and schedules an additional oral argument. But absent such a development (which as I suggested is rare), there won't be another day for this case. The Justices will meet in private to discuss and vote on it and over time they'll write one or more opinions for it, eventually releasing their decision. That could take a couple of months or it could, as the article suggests, take until June of 2017 (though I'd expect this decision to be released well before then).
    edited October 2016 ronnai46jony0
  • Reply 5 of 19
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 416member
    Flexibility = it's ok to steal?
    edited October 2016 magman1979mwhitecaliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 19
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,933member
    ""If I were a juror, I wouldn't know what to do," said Justice Anthony Kennedy. " This comment says everything about our judicial system, from local judges and courts to the US supreme court. Judges and juries are not technically qualified to determine anything related to deciding whether one company infringed on another's patents or whether patents should have been given in the first place. Computer devices have gone beyond the understanding of just about everyone.

    A better way for the Supreme Court to address this would be to go back and look at what mobile devices looked like before Apple released the iPhone and iPod. We've all seen the photos showing Samsung, and other's, feature(less) phones before the first iPhone and we've all seen what Samsung in particular did after the iPhone was released. It doesn't take a Supreme Court justice to realize that Samsung copied just about everything Apple did and benefited greatly from it. The design was everything. If Apple had released a typical flip-phone would anyone have bought it? Some but not nearly as many as lined up for the iPhone. The iPhone changed everything and they should have received a whole lot more than they have. Without the iPhone, we'd still be using flip-phones. I can't see where any company would have made the impact Apple did by releasing something totally different. Yes, there were attempts at a similar device maybe even before the iPhone but those products failed. The iPhone determined where mobile systems would go and everyone copied Apple. Justice Kennedy, is this clear enough for you or have you been locked up in the court room trying to figure out how antiquated laws fit this situation? Open your eyes (and demand that the other justices open theirs) and see the obvious.
    buzdotsbadmonkjbdragonmwhitelollivercaliaderutterpalominejony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 19
    In the case of Apple, they led the pack and created something new, which Samsung blatantly copied. Their entire purpose for copying was to ride Apple's coattails to instantly make money. It's the same reason ANYONE who copies (and more subtly, gently pays tribute to another source) does this. It's because recognition, familiarity, innovation, invention —all of these things— are a means to stimulate a consumer to buy. Samsung always takes the easy route of copying because they are afraid of producing something that people will not accept. 
    tmayjbdragondavenlolliveraderutterpalominejony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 19
    Here is the transcript from the Supreme Court on this case:

    https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2016/15-777_1b82.pdf

    My cursory reading of the transcript looks like Samsung is really flailing. If the design of the iPhone is unimportant, why did they copy it? That's the questions as simply as one may ask it.

     MS. SULLIVAN:  There would have been -- no
    reasonable jury could have found on this record that the
    entire product was the article of manufacture to which
    the design has been applied.  Two reasons.
    
                One, design patents cover ornamental
    appearance.  They cannot, by definition, cover the
    innards of the phone.  So the functional innards of the
    phone cannot be part of what is claimed by the design
    patent.
    
                JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR:  Well, you can't claim
    the design patent for a Volkswagen doesn't cover the
    innards, but you just admitted that a jury could find
    its -- could find that the consumers and others would
    perceive the Volkswagen to be a Volkswagen by its looks
    only.					
    			
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 9 of 19
    If the fine is reduced to $150m then that sends a message to Samsung (or anyone else in this postion) that they can see stealing design as a business decision based purely on profit and loss. Are the three elements in this litigation worth $150m, if Samsung thinks 'yes' then in effect they can license the use of these elements from Apple for $150m without asking for permission. As mad as it seems, only complete loss of profit has the ability to deter.
    ronnSpamSandwichai46caliaderutterpalominejony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    metrixmetrix Posts: 227member
    Let's say that Samsung completely copied the iPhone, which isn't far from the truth according to their own communications. Now since Samsung doesn't have a set of processes to complete the final product their profit margin is near nothing.  Samsung probably new that profit margin was going to be near zero so they had nothing to lose if they were only going to be sued for profit. You can't make the penalty equal to the potential profit or even close to it otherwise the risk is totally worth it and its obvious that Samsung is willing to take the risk because it's worth it to them. The penalty has to have teeth that goes after all production cost at least lets try going the opposite direction for awhile.

    SpamSandwichrich gregorymwhitelollivercalipalominejony0
  • Reply 11 of 19
    Meh, this case is getting old and at this point the damage is done. Apple is not going to recover the amount they want and they aren't going to get much sympathy from the court or the public. Facebook and Google have come to Samsung's side. More will follow because too much time has passed for this to be as relevant as when it was first argued. 

    The real issue now now is Samsung and their ignoring their own hardware issues that will cost them way more than this case ever would have. Call it just desserts, karma, whatever. They have shown that they will risk lives for profit. That is criminal. I doubt Apple would point it out, but they may advise the court about good faith and Samsung rarely acts in good faith. 

    If you believe in conspiracies, Samsung could have bought Viv to bargain with Apple over the result of this case. Who knows. 

    Samsung is done for at least another year. 
    Let's hope Apple can capitalize on it. Although it's going to be tough when your enemy helps make your product. 
  • Reply 12 of 19
    From NYT coverage:

    “It seems to me that the design is applied to the exterior case of the phone,” said Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. “It’s not applied to all the chips and wires.”

    It followed, he said, that “there shouldn’t be profits awarded based on the entire price of the phone.”

    Two big points that he seems to be missing here are:

    1) Yes, in many ways, all smartphones are fairly similar, but that's why the few characteristics that distinguish products from each other are that much more important. If Samsung has to copy certain patented elements to be competitive in the marketplace, then these elements are much more important than, say, the 4G chips that both phones share. If Samsung can make a generic phone that's like a hundred others on the market, and then add a few illegally patented technologies to compete with the innovative market leader, they don't deserve to be any more successful than anyone whose phone is essentially the same except for the illegally copied features.
    2) The penalty shouldn't just try to calculate the damage done--there is zero disincentive to keep doing the same thing if the worst case scenario is that you end up with what you would have had if you had respected the law. The damages sought should be punitive, so Samsung is worse off than if they had just stuck to their own designs. Which would be a whole lot of money. Otherwise, it's like punishing someone who steals billions of dollars from the bank by laboriously trying to calculate the exact amount of money he stole, and then making him return exactly that amount, with no other punishment. Frankly, it would be next to impossible to calculate all the different benefits that Samsung gleaned from being seen as the top competitor to iPhone, which is probably in large part due to the various ways they copied Apple's designs and technologies, and they are still riding that wave now, as they probably will for years to come. Anybody want to guess how much that is worth?
    edited October 2016 palominejony0
  • Reply 13 of 19
    Meh, this case is getting old and at this point the damage is done. Apple is not going to recover the amount they want and they aren't going to get much sympathy from the court or the public. Facebook and Google have come to Samsung's side. More will follow because too much time has passed for this to be as relevant as when it was first argued. 

    The real issue now now is Samsung and their ignoring their own hardware issues that will cost them way more than this case ever would have. Call it just desserts, karma, whatever. They have shown that they will risk lives for profit. That is criminal. I doubt Apple would point it out, but they may advise the court about good faith and Samsung rarely acts in good faith. 

    If you believe in conspiracies, Samsung could have bought Viv to bargain with Apple over the result of this case. Who knows. 

    Samsung is done for at least another year. 
    Let's hope Apple can capitalize on it. Although it's going to be tough when your enemy helps make your product. 
    This could be a SCOTUS decision that is very broad in its impact, on the other hand, they could simply kick it back to the lower court and let the previous ruling stand.
  • Reply 14 of 19
    So if they can't decide on the value of design in driving phone sales, then reduce the amount to 150 million or whatever Samsung is arguing BUT increase the amount for willful infringement to 10X the amount of the award. 1.5 billion sounds more right. Samsung thought they could rip off the design BECAUSE this was a gray area and that there would be a 'fine' that they afford AND still make a lot of money. Total disregard for the intent of patents and US law. Now we see how they regard consumer safety with their phone that catches fire and intentional delays in a recall. They should be taught a lesson. A big lesson.

  • Reply 15 of 19
    You are 100% Correct!  Apple created a totally new design and Samsung just rips them off, no disregard and they get away with it.?   It's not a Volkswagon car.  It was a totally new way of interaction and touch and feel for a cell phone.  Not done before.  With Glass not plastic, etc.  etc.
    ------------
    So if they can't decide on the value of design in driving phone sales, then reduce the amount to 150 million or whatever Samsung is arguing BUT increase the amount for willful infringement to 10X the amount of the award. 1.5 billion sounds more right. Samsung thought they could rip off the design BECAUSE this was a gray area and that there would be a 'fine' that they afford AND still make a lot of money. Total disregard for the intent of patents and US law. Now we see how they regard consumer safety with their phone that catches fire and intentional delays in a recall. They should be taught a lesson. A big lesson.

    aderutterjony0
  • Reply 16 of 19
    I would be delighted with Apple getting paid the full value of all infringing Samsung phones, which could lead to Apple suing other look-and-feel-alike ripoff phones.
    edited October 2016 rob53aderutterjony0xiamenbill
  • Reply 17 of 19
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,933member
    I would be delighted with Apple getting paid the full value of all infringing Samsung phones, which could lead to Apple suing other look-and-feel-alike ripoff phones.
    Like Google and their new Pixel phone? Absolutely I want Apple to be able to sue Google.
    aderutterpalominejony0watto_cobraSpamSandwich
  • Reply 18 of 19
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,317member
    rob53 said:
    I would be delighted with Apple getting paid the full value of all infringing Samsung phones, which could lead to Apple suing other look-and-feel-alike ripoff phones.
    Like Google and their new Pixel phone? Absolutely I want Apple to be able to sue Google.
    They've always been able to sue Google. Nothing stopped them if they felt they had a strong case. The myth that they haven't because Google doesn't make money from Android is just that... a myth used by some fans to explain away Apple not suing Google but with zero factual basis in law.

    Anyway as for this case it really REALLY has absolutely nothing to do with Samsung, Apple or the iPhone. They just happen to be the names involved. There's only one single issue SCOTUS will be opining on and the sole question granted cert by the court:

    Where a design patent is applied to only a component of a product, should an award of infringer’s profits be limited to those profits attributable to the component?

    That's it. Absolutely nothing to do with whether Samsung "copied" the iPhone. That's a settled issue that the Supreme Court is not revisiting. 
    edited October 2016 singularity
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