Apple, Samsung to face off at another patent damages trial – CNET


Apple and Samsung will be heading back to court for another damages retrial. 


Get ready for Apple v. Samsung round number… oh, forget it, we don’t remember, either. 

Apple and Samsung will head back to district court for yet another design patent infringement trial. Judge Lucy Koh, in an order signed Sunday, has ordered the two tech giants to meet again in a courtroom to determine how much Samsung owes Apple for infringing three patents. 

The decision follows a Supreme Court ruling a year ago that said damages could be determined differently than they typically had been in the past, with the infringing “article of manufacture” potentially being a part of a product instead of the entire product.

“The Court finds that the jury instructions given at trial did not accurately reflect the law and that the instructions prejudiced Samsung by precluding the jury from considering whether the relevant article of manufacture… was something other than the entire phone,” Koh wrote in the order, handing Samsung a victory in its quest for a retrial. 

Apple and Samsung didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Apple and Samsung have been battling over patents since 2012, and a question about how much money could be owed for infringing design patents made it all the way to the Supreme Court in late 2016. In December, the Supreme Court said in a unanimous opinion that damages for design patent infringement can be based only on the part of the device that infringed the patents, not necessarily on the entire product.

That ruling reshapes the value of designs, and how much one company has to pay for copying the look of a competitor’s product. Before the ruling, the law said an award could be collected on the entire profits of an infringing device. In this case, that’s the $399 million Samsung paid Apple last last year. 

The Supreme Court didn’t give guidance on how damages should be decided, though, and in February, an appeals court punted the case back to district court for the Northern District of California.

Apple had asked for the appeals court to uphold the earlier damages ruling because Samsung never showed an “article of manufacture” to be anything other than an entire phone. Samsung, meanwhile, wanted the case sent back to district court for a new damages trial. 

Koh, in her order on Sunday, detailed how to define an “article of manufacture” at question in a case. Previously, Apple had argued the article of manufacture was an entire phone. Koh said the test for determining what item has been infringed will be based on four factors:

  • “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 design is embodied in a component that is manufactured separately from the rest of the product, or if the component can be sold separately.”

Koh said the plaintiff, 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 said in a separate ruling that a case management meeting set for Oct. 25 will still be held and that both Apple and Samsung must file plans “advancing the case schedule and trial date” by that point. 

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