Supreme Court Hears Argument on Profit Awards for Design Patent Infringement

The Supreme Court on October 11, 2016, heard oral argument on whether an award of profits for design patent infringement of Apple’s iPhone should be limited to those profits attributable components bearing the claimed design features or should include profits from the entire iPhone. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. v. Apple, Inc., U.S., No. 15-777, oral argument 10/11/2016. The design patent statute provides for liability “to the extent of the [infringer’s] total profit” for applying the patented design “to any article of manufacture.” The parties agreed that the “article of manufacture” may be a component rather than the entire product, and agreed with the government’s proposed factors for determining the profit attributable to the infringing component. Apple maintained, however, that there is no basis for overturning the jury award of nearly $400 million since in this case Samsung never identified any article of manufacture other than the phones themselves.

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