The Korea Herald


Samsung vs. Apple retrial to shine light on value of design in smartphone

By Lim Jeong-yeo

Published : May 14, 2018 - 14:46

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The retrial for the 7-year-old design patent suit between Samsung and Apple will commence Monday in California, local time. The final ruling from this retrial is set to draw a milestone on how much value a component design holds in an innovative product.

The legal dispute started in 2011 when Apple sued Samsung. The South Korean tech giant countersued Apple in the same year. But in 2012, Samsung lost the case and was ordered to pay more than $1 billion to Apple for infringing on three of the US tech behemoth’s design patents related to mobile devices: the quick links to phone numbers, the slide-to-unlock feature and the auto-correct function.

Under the US patent law, infringement of a design patent can result in a plaintiff receiving total profits made through the product. Samsung’s lawyers appealed the case, bringing down the compensation of $1 billion to $400 million in 2015 at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. 

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

Samsung then appealed the lower court’s ruling to the Supreme Court, attempting to limit the compensation to profits attributable to a specific component patent in question.

Samsung argued that component design could be just a small part of a multifaceted smartphone whose technologies involve more than 200,000 patents.

In late 2016, the US Supreme Court made the ruling in favor of Samsung’s side in a unanimous decision. The court ordered Apple and Samsung to negotiate a date for a retrial to settle the award money for Apple.

The ruling from this retrial is expected to serve as a crucial precedent for future patent suits, changing the dynamics for innovative technology and designs.

Despite the high-profile court battle, Samsung keeps maintaining complex business relations with Apple. Samsung provides key components to Apple’s flagship laptops, smartphones and table computers.

After the latest retrial, Samsung, Apple and Intel are scheduled to stand together in the US trade watchdog FTC’s suit against Qualcomm for the latter’s alleged attempt to charge its customers for patented technology that it did not actually use.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (