US appeals court reverses part of Apple’s $930 million verdict vs. Samsung

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Monday reversed a portion of the $930 million verdict that Apple won in 2012 against Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., saying Apple’s trade dress could not be protected.

The court did uphold the patent infringement violations found by the jury, however the $382 million awarded for trade dress dilution will now have to be reconsidered by the lower court.

AppleInsider reports:

Apple’s trade dress for the iPhone was presented during the trial as:

• A rectangular product with four evenly rounded corners
• A flat, clear surface covering the front of the product
• A display screen under the clear surface
• Substantial neutral (black or white) borders above and below the display and narrower neutral borders on either side of the screen
• On the display, a matrix of colorful square icons with evenly rounded corners
• A dock at the bottom of the display

MacDailyNews Take: If Samsung’s products aren’t trade dress infringements, then trade dress protection is meaningless. If eMachines’ eOne knockoff of the iMac infringed Apple’s trade dress, and it certainly did, then Samsung has clearly infringed Apple’s trade dress multiple times.

By by the way, a question for the courts, if Jony Ive’s work has no value, why is he getting paid millions of dollars per year?

Apple iMac (left) and eMachines' trade dress infringing eOne (right)
Apple iMac (left) and eMachines’ trade dress infringing eOne (right)

Apple’s products came first, then Samsung’s:
Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Tab Trade Dress Infringement


    1. While it’s true that Apple hasn’t received a dime, Samsung will have had to lodge a certain amount – I think 1.5 times the amount of the original award – with the court before it was allowed to appeal. The rule is to prevent losing parties from appealing as a matter of course – you have to put up significant money and prove you have enough to pay the judgment in case you lose the appeal.
      But it’s not like Apple really missed having an extra few hundred million. Given Samsung’s declining profits, it’s more likely that having to give up the use of $1.5B will have stung, at least a little bit.

  1. The United States is truly doomed: Wall Street only rewards companies that produce nothing or that are collapsing, and the U.S. courts rule against domestic companies while rewarding foreign theft.

    1. I think of it as ‘scouring’. It’s the sucking of every last little penny out of the collapsing world civilization before the last dark age hits and the 1%ers go ride it out to the end in some luxurious Dubai skyscraper. – – Oh darn, I forgot to take my antidepressants this morning! Never mind. 😉

    1. You should read the opinion (available on appleinsider). Only certain trade dress is protected under US law. Using trade dress in place of patents to protect products is only allowable for certain aspects of trade dress – essentially, non-functional aspects (ones that affect appearance only and have no bearing on usability or function). Apple itself promoted the shape and design of iPhone as being functional (e.g., the shape and size made it “easy to use”). Thus, that particular aspect of trade dress was not protected trade dress. It needed to protect its functional designs by patent – which it did (to an extent) and which claims the court upheld.

      1. Thanks for the insight. I would have thought the trade dress issue was settled in the original trial when the Judge held up an iPad in one hand and a Samsung tablet in the other and asked Samsungs lawyer “Which is your clients product?”, to which the lawyer replied “I can’t tell from here. “

        1. You would have thought. (Though that was at an early hearing, not the trial in front of the jury.) But Apple promoted its iPad and iPhone as being the perfect size for usability and convenience. Under the law, apparently usability and convenience are considered to be functional, not matters of appearance. Function has to be protected by patents – and in this case, the court of appeal upheld the verdicts on all the patents.
          The law is very complex in this area, and definitely out of date. And far too slow. For me, the fact that they’re still arguing over iPhone 3Gs is one of the bigger takeaways from this.

  2. It’s pretty clear that Apple realises that the U.S courts will not provide any meaningful protection for Apple’s designs, so Apple is protecting itself by a much more subtle method.

    Apple is producing products that are very expensive for others to copy. Apple can profitably build these sort of products because it has a very limited product matrix and can be near certain to sell their products in large quantities and at premium prices, thereby bringing down the cost per unit. Copiers like Samsung sell a wide range of products for a lower price and in smaller quantities, so they are unable to benefit from similar manufacturing efficiencies. As a result, Samsung’s financial rewards for copying Apple are eroding and as Samsung becomes less profitable, their copying will be less of a concern to Apple.

  3. Apple’s trade dress could not be protected.

    So not only doesn’t our beloved US court system understand modern technology. They ALSO don’t understand the fundamental importance of trade dress being as important as trademark. Who assigns these loonies? . . . Oh yeah. Figures.

  4. This is exactly why Tim Cook scaled back Apple’s litigation response to Samsung and instead put those resources (and much more) into simply out-inventing Samsung in areas and at a pace that Samsung nor any other company could hope to match.

    That’s how you bury your competition which is stealing your idea: Run so far ahead that they can’t possibly keep up.

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