Apple claims that Samsung infringed on three of their design and two of their utility patents. These patents include the iPhone’s black screen with rounded edges and a bezel, the rows of colorful icons commonly found on an iPhone screen, the “bounce-back” function, and the “tap-to-zoom” function. Samsung purportedly developed sixteen different models that included the patented components and sold millions of these devices in 2010 and 2011.
The jury must decide whether Apple should receive all of Samsung’s profits from the devices in question, or whether Apple should only receive a part of the profits since their patents are “components”. Samsung attorney John Quinn remarked, “Samsung isn’t saying it isn’t required to pay profits. It is just saying it isn’t required to pay profits on the whole phone.”
This case has been ongoing since 2011. A San Jose jury initially awarded Apple $1 billion in 2012, but Samsung successfully appealed to the United States Supreme Court in 2016. The Supreme Court determined that damages for patent infringement can only be based on the part of the device that infringes the patent, not the entire product. They did not decide how these damages should be determined. The Supreme Court then sent the case back to the lower courts to be reexamined.
Samsung has been supported in this case by other tech titans such as Google, Facebook, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard. They believe that Apple’s claims that smartphones are “unitary or monolithic” devices could lead to a boom in unwanted and time-consuming litigation. Apple has been supported by designers and corporations such as Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola has successfully sued PepsiCo in a number of countries for infringing upon their design patent.
The eight-person San Jose jury began their deliberations this past Friday. They may return a verdict as soon as this coming Monday. This court case could potentially influence the strength of future patents and the consequences surrounding their intitial infringement.