The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Thursday reopened a longstanding patent lawsuit which accuses Samsung of copying the design of the iPhone six years ago. The lawsuit was reopened following a recommendation from the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a one-paragraph order, the appeals court reinstated Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s appeal and vacated a 2015 Federal Circuit decision that the Korean company owed Apple Inc. $399 million for infringing patents that cover parts of the iPhone design.
How Much is Infringing the iPhone’s Design Really Worth?
The court will attempt to determine the exact amount Samsung owes Apple for the infringement of the iPhone’s design, which includes its rectangular face, rounded edges, and the grid of color-laden icons on the device’s screen.
The previous $399 million in damages vacated last month by the Supreme Court were calculated based on Samsung’s entire profit from the sales of its infringing Galaxy smartphones. However, the Supreme Court ruled it didn’t have enough information to rule whether the damages amount should be based on the entire device, or simply on its individual components, such as the screen, or front bezel.
Apple released a statement last month, saying the lawsuit has always been about Samsung’s “blatant copying” of the iPhone and believes the U.S. Court of Appeals will “again send a powerful signal that stealing isn’t right.”
The question before the Supreme Court was how to calculate the amount Samsung should pay for their copying. Our case has always been about Samsung’s blatant copying of our ideas, and that was never in dispute. We will continue to protect the years of hard work that has made iPhone the world’s most innovative and beloved product. We remain optimistic that the lower courts will again send a powerful signal that stealing isn’t right.
It’s Really Apple vs. Android
Many observers believe the Apple vs. Samsung patent lawsuits over the design of the iPhone have always been as much about the design of the Android operating system that powers Samsung’s phones, as the design of the device itself. Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs said he considered Android “stolen,” and threatened “thermonuclear war” over the issue. In later years, under the reign of current CEO Tim Cook, Apple has ceased much of its Android-related legal battles.