Apple, Samsung head back to court to re-decide design infringement damages

The longest-running legal show in Silicon Valley just got another season in the works.

Apple and Samsung are heading back to district court for yet another round in the design-infringement case related to their respective flagship smartphones, the iPhone and the Galaxy. The case was last heard in the Supreme Court, which last December reversed on an earlier order to reward Apple $399 million in damages from Samsung.

The courtroom feud started in 2011, when Apple sued Samsung for violating its design patents used to construct the iPhone.

The $399 million settlement was tossed by the high court because the amount was based on Samsung’s entire profits for phones that were found to infringe on Apple’s design patents. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court decided that the damages do not have to be determined by the product’s entire profit if the product is made of numerous parts and only some infringe on the patent.

For over a century until Apple v. Samsung, damages from design infringement suits were generally calculated using the entire profits of the product — or “article of manufacture” in legalese — in question. The Supreme Court decided that the “article of manufacture” does not necessarily mean the entire smartphone but rather its screen and case.

Despite giving Samsung a limited win, the Supreme Court shied away from determining exactly how the damages should be calculated. Because of this, the case has been punted back down to the local courts to determine what infringed parts should be considered to calculate a new damages payment from Samsung to Apple.

District Judge Lucy Koh ordered on Sunday that Samsung and Apple have to meet again to re-determine the costs for three infringed patents.

In her order, Koh wrote that Apple “shall bear the burden of persuasion on identifying the relevant article of manufacture and proving the amount of total profit on the sale of that article.”

Koh also defined what an “article of manufacture” may be for Apple to consider when coming up with a new number. She listed four factors, as provided by the U.S. government:

  • “The scope of the design claimed in the plaintiff’s patent, including the drawing
    and written description”;
  • “The relative prominence of the design within the product as a whole”;
  • “Whether the design is conceptually distinct from the product as a whole”; and
  • “The physical relationship between the patented design and the rest of the
    product,” including whether “the design pertains to a component that a user or
    seller can physically separate from the product as a whole,” and whether “the product, or if the component can be sold separately.”

In a separate order, Koh wrote Apple and Samsung have until Oct. 25 to determine a new case schedule and trial date.

Photo: This file photo illustration taken on Aug. 27, 2012 shows an employee holding an Apple iPhone 4sand a Samsung Galaxy S3 at a mobile phone shop in Seoul. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

 

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