Apple and Samsung have been embroiled in patent lawsuits for a number of years now and we had a new development in that at the end of last week, the U.S. Appeals Court upheld Apple's earlier victory by reinstating the win. This is the latest chapter in a long running case between Apple and Samsung, whereby Apple is claiming that Samsung has infringed a number of its design patents including how the operating system works. These include the slide-to-unlock, autocorrect and quick linking technologies, that is, how the operating system converts addresses and telephone numbers into the ability to directly perform a function with this information. Samsung has of course defended its position. This particular appeal follows a court verdict from May 2014 in San Jose, California. At the time the court ordered Samsung to pay Apple approximately $120 million for using a number of Apple technologies without permission. However, the two companies have been battling for years over various patents and, typically, Apple gains the upper hand.
In the detail, this US Court of Appeal contained all eleven judges on the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., and the ruling was 8 to 3 in favor of retaining the existing sums. The panel of judges also ruled that the previous Court of Appeal should not have overturned the original verdict as delivered by a panel of three judges back in February. The latest panel stated that the earlier appeal court judges did not follow U.S. Supreme Court limits of the case and examined evidence outside of the scope. Following Friday's ruling, Samsung has issued a lengthy statement criticizing Apple's patent lawsuit. Samsung is considering bringing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is already set to hear a different Apple versus Samsung patent infringement case in the coming days. Samsung's statement blasts the current patent law by stating that the "design patent law that has been interpreted is not in line with modern times because it discourages competition, innovation and consumer choice."
The statement highlighted that the patent law is several hundred years old and was originally designed to cover much simpler objects, such as carpet patterns or spoon handles, which critically could sway a consumer decision to purchase. It goes on to highlight a modern smartphone can contain over 200,000 patents alone and many of these do not influence a purchase decision. Samsung explain that they believe in good design and over the last ten years have won almost 800 design awards. Then directly attacks Apple: "The problem is that Apple wants a rule that stifles innovation – including innovation in design – by discouraging the development and marketing of new products."
They go on to explain that the law as Apple would apply it means that a patent holder of one design feature on a single smartphone model is entitled to profits from the entire device, but with there being over 200,000 patents in a single smartphone design, this devalues the other patents embedded into the product. This in turn would stunt the design and development of new models for fear of Apple suing. Samsung gave the example of Apple suing Samsung for their use of a front screen design including rounded corners: Apple received all profits from the sale of such 'phones. Samsung believes that this would discourage innovators to bring new models to the market for fear, essentially, of a beating from Apple's big law stick. The South Korean conglomerate also highlights how it has the support of many technology businesses, public interest groups, intellectual property professors and even the U.S. government and that the federal court ruling in favor of Apple should be overturned. Samsung are seeking clear guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court "on how to apply the design patent law fairly in the 21st century will promote competition and provide wide-ranging benefits for innovators and consumers for years to come."