Apple's Samsung damages cut by $382m after "rounded corners" appeal

Apple's $930m win against Samsung in 2012 faces a slash of more than 40-percent, after an appeals court ruled that the things like rectangles with rounded corners couldn't be protected. The closely-watched court case eventually decided three years ago that not only had Samsung infringed on iPhone patents, it had infringed "trade dress" too, effectively damaging its unique brand in the process. Now, though, the latter part of that ruling is being called into question, and it's worth $382m.

Although another form of intellectual property, trade dress is more generalized than a specific design patent. Instead, it embodies the characteristics of a product's visual appearance and/or packaging.

The trade dress part of Apple's case had always been controversial. The Cupertino firm had argued that elements like "a rectangular product with four evenly rounded corners," and "a flat, clear surface covering the front of the product" were distinct to iPhone or iPad design, along with aspects like the "matrix of colorful square icons with evenly rounded corners ... and an unchanging bottom dock."

Sure enough it's those allegations that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. has taken issue with now.

While the court upheld the patent findings, it questioned whether the trade dress claims could be considered non-essential to the functioning of the device. To be considered aesthetic identifiers, they cannot be functionally required, and the appeals court decided Apple was insufficient in proving that was the case.

As a result it's requested that the damages be recalculated, which means a sizable chunk of the original penalty be written off.

VIA Reuters

SOURCE U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. [PDF link]