Last Time SCOTUS Heard a Case Like This, It Was 1885

Apple, Samsung battle has lasted years
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2016 3:45 AM CDT
Apple-Samsung Showdown Reaches Supreme Court
Attorney Kathleen Sullivan, representing Samsung, speaks with reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The last time the Supreme Court heard a design patent case, it involved carpets—and there were only 38 states in the USA. The long-running Apple vs. Samsung battle over the latter company's alleged copying of iPhone design elements made it to the country's top court Tuesday, and the Wall Street Journal reports that the court seemed "frustrated" by its first such case since 1885 as the justices tried to figure out how much individual design features like the iPhone's round corners and app grid could be worth. A roundup of coverage:

  • Samsung argues that it shouldn't have to turn over all its profits on products that infringed on Apple patents, and Reuters reports that the justices struggled with the question of how lower courts should assess design patent damages. "If I were a juror, I wouldn't know what to do," Justice Anthony Kennedy said. The case revolves around how the phone looks, not how it works, and Justice Elena Kagan used the example of the shape of the VW Beetle.

  • Tech Times notes that the case is being very closely watched by the tech industry, with Google, HP, Dell, and other major firms supporting Samsung, and a coalition of designers backing Apple.
  • CNET takes a look at the background of the case, and at how the court's decision could end up affecting the gadgets that you buy.
  • A patent "on the portion of the appearance of a phone should not entitle the design-patent holder to all the profit on the entire phone," said a Samsung lawyer, per the Journal. Apple's chief litigation officer countered that it would pose "chilling risks to the future of design innovation" if Samsung got away with copying the iPhone.
  • The BBC looks at the 1885 case, in which companies that accused the Dobson brothers of ripping off their carpet designs were awarded 6 cents each, and at how it affects the Apple vs. Samsung case, where a ruling is due by June 2017.
(More Apple vs. Samsung stories.)

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