US Supreme Court rules in favor of Samsung in smartphone patent suit
The U.S. Supreme Court sides with Samsung in its design patent battle with archrival Apple.
The ruling makes it less likely the Korean tech titan will have to pay the entire penalty demanded by the iPhone maker.
Hwang Hojun has the latest twist in the seemingly never-ending saga.
Not only have they battled for customers, but a patent dispute between the two has dragged on since 2011, a year after Samsung unveiled its Galaxy line of smartphones.
On Tuesday local time, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Samsung, overturning an appeals court ruling ordering Samsung to pay 399 million dollars to its American rival for copying key iPhone designs, including its rounded corners and square icons on a touchscreen.
The battle began in 2011 with Apple suing Samsung for patent and trademark infringement, and a year later, the jury ruled in Apple's favor and Samsung was ordered to turn over basically all the profits it had made on 11 infringing phone models.
Samsung later filed a complaint, and on Tuesday it won a significant victory -- an eight-to-zero ruling by the court, which said patent infringement regarding a particular element of a design should be treated differently from the infringement of an entire design.
The ruling was written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote that a patent violator does not always have to hand over its entire profit from the sales of a product using stolen designs if the designs covered only certain components... and not the whole thing.
In other words, the issue is not whether Samsung violated Apple's patents, but rather how much money it's reasonable for Samsung to pay for the infringement.
The justices sent the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to determine what portion of its profits Samsung must pay.
Apple says it remains optimistic the lower courts will again send a powerful signal that intellectual property theft won't be tolerated, while Samsung says the Supreme Court's decision shows its argument was more persuasive.