US Supreme Court hands Samsung a victory in its patent dispute with Apple

US Supreme Court hands Samsung a victory in its patent dispute with Apple

On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court unanimously gave a ruling in favor of Samsung in the company's long-running patent-infringement scuffle with Apple - the Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., No. 15-777, lawsuit.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court said that Samsung's alleged patent infringement -- resulting from its copy of parts of the Apple iPhone distinctive look -- does not make the company liable to give up $399 million in profits.

The ruling underscores the Supreme Court's unanimous opinion that the key consideration for damages for design patent infringement is the component of a device which violates the patents, and not necessarily the entire device.

The ruling by the Supreme Court turns on the meaning of a phrase in the federal law which states that companies found liable for infringement of design patents on an "article of manufacture" are liable for their total profits.

In announcing the Supreme Court's ruling, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the court that, in some cases an "article of manufacture" may be the entire product sold to consumers - here, Samsung's smartphones -- while, in other cases, it may be the components found to have violated a design patent.

In concluding the court's ruling, the judge said that the relevant article of manufacture "need not be the end product sold to the consumer but may be only a component of that product."