Apple discourages SC from hearing Samsung’s patent review case

JC Torres - Feb 4, 2016
Apple discourages SC from hearing Samsung’s patent review case

Apple has finally and formally reacted to Samsung‘s attempt to bring the patent tug of war between the two companies to the US Supreme Court. In an opposition brief filed by Apple’s lawyers, Cupertino tries to dissuade the court from even giving Samsung’s case the time of day. It’s main argument is that despite the seemingly high-profile nature of the case and the half a dozen or so amici briefs filed in support, the matter is “legally unexceptional”. Apple, however, might be facing a more difficult time proving that.

It might almost seem strange that Apple, who itself has been the target of sometimes frivolous patent lawsuits, would attempt to block a move that could help reform the system. But aside from the fact that it is an indirect way for Samsung to score a win over Apple in its many patent lawsuits, Apple is actually narrowing down its opposition to the very specific case of design patents. While it admits, here in this legal brief and elsewhere, that patent trolls are a problem, it downplays the existence, if not the impact, of design patent trolls that Samsung and friends are pointing to.

That may not have been the case, but things could be changing, for the worse, soon. And, ironically, it would have been because of Apple. The landmark victory it gained over Samsung is already being used as a legal precedent for other design patent cases. In short, we might indeed soon see the rise of a new type of patent troll. Considering that design patents can cover something as minuscule as an icon or even a UI component like a slider, it definitely sets a very dangerous, not to mention expensive, precedent.

Which brings us to one of Samsung’s biggest beef in the case, the unrealistically high calculation of damages for infringing on a design patent. A single infringement like that could cost a company the whole revenue of infringing products. Samsung, as well as Google and other companies and organizations, as well as legal experts, have filed legal opinions on how this could eventually lead to a stagnation in innovation. Curiously, Apple isn’t contesting this position.

So far, the Supreme Court has remained silent on the matter, which is quite normal considering the effects this case will have over the entire industry. That is, should it deem it worthy to hear the case at all. Now that both sides have basically made their statements, all that’s left for the industry to do is wait for the Court to decide.


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