The ruling could change the landscape for how design patent cases are handled.
The Supreme Court handed a huge victory to Samsung on Tuesday, tossing out nearly $400 million in damages it was ordered to pay to Apple in their long-running patent infringement case.
A federal jury had earlier ordered Samsung to pay Apple $399 million as part of its finding that the company had infringed on design patents used in Apple’s iPhone.
That amount was based on Samsung’s entire profits for the Samsung phones that were found to infringe. However, the Supreme Court ruled in the closely watched case that damages need not be calculated based on the profits for an entire device.
“In the case of a multicomponent product, the relevant ‘article of manufacture’ … need not be the end product sold to the consumer but may be only a component of that product,” justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the court’s unanimous opinion.
The case had been closely watched as it was the first time in decades the Supreme Court had looked at design patents, with many companies weighing in on one side or the other.
However, the Supreme Court didn’t actually decide whether or not the damages in this case should be for the whole product or just a component. Instead, it decided a lower court could sort that out and sent the case back to the trial court for yet more hearings.
So, even after a trip to the Supreme Court, the case of Apple v. Samsung continues.
More details to come.
Update, 10:40 a.m. Here is the ruling