Why the U.S. Supreme Court asked if Apple’s iPhone design is like a Volkswagen Beetle

“The Volkswagen Beetle took center stage as the Supreme Court argued about iPhones on Tuesday in a closely watched intellectual property case between Apple and Samsung over the value of design,” Jeff John Roberts reports for Fortune.

“The case turned on three design patents covering the appearance of early editions of the iPhone—including the device’s black rectangular shape and the layout of icons on the screen—which led a jury to order Samsung to pay $399 million in damages,” Roberts reports. “Before the Supreme Court, the issue at stake was not whether Samsung infringed on the patents, but instead how much the Korean company should pay based on a law that allows a patent owner to receive a competitor’s ‘total profit.’ Should that profit be for the entire value of the smartphone, as an appeals court ruled, or only for profits attributable to the copied design?”

“In trying to make sense of the design patents’ value, the judges repeatedly invoked the body shape of Volkswagen’s iconic Beetle model, noting that consumers will pay extra for a cool-looking car,” Roberts reports. “The dispute, which some are calling the “design case of the century,” involves just one aspect of a long-running feud between the companies that began in 2010 when Apple’s late CEO accused Samsung of “slavishly copying” the iPhone.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is so simple that there’s a chance even the U.S. Supreme Court will get this one right.

The main reason why Samsung et al. were able to sell phones and tablets at all was because they made fake iPhones and fake iPads designed to fool the unwitting/appeal to the undiscerning in much the same way as how Microsoft et al. profited wildly from upside-down and backwards fake Macs at the end of the 20th century. Google, Samsung, HTC, Xiaomi, et al. are the Microsofts, HPs, Dells, and eMachines of the new century.

Apple’s products came first, then Samsung’s:

Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Tab Trade Dress Infringement

Here’s what Google’s Android looked like before and after Apple’s iPhone:

Google Android before and after Apple iPhone

And, here’s what cellphones looked like before and after Apple’s iPhone:

cellphones before and after Apple iPhone

People who buy Android phones and tablets reward thieves.

Seemingly frustrated U.S. Supreme Court hears Apple, Samsung patent case – October 11, 2016
U.S. Supreme Court to hear Samsung, Apple damages dispute today – October 11, 2016
Apple wins appeal reinstating $119.6 million verdict against patent-infringer Samsung – October 7, 2016
Beleaguered Samsung struggles to put out the fires caused by their exploding phones – October 6, 2016
Dieter Rams, Norman Foster, and 100+ of the world’s top designers side with Apple in Samsung patent case – August 4, 2016
Apple to U.S. Supreme Court: Samsung stole our patents, should end its appeals and finally pay up – August 1, 2016
Obama nominates Lucy Koh for Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco – February 29, 2016


  1. just my 49¢ but 5-4 scotus decisions should be unconstitutional. not that it has anything to do with this article. it’s just i think decisions should at least be 6-3 ..you know, a bit more consensus for the highest court in the land. ok, maybe it’s not 49¢. maybe, it’s a good freakin $999.99

    1. It’s more like $0.02 (2¢).

      The whole point of having odd number of justices is so that there will (almost) always be a majority decision (except in those very rare cases when someone has to recuse him/herself due to some conflict). This is why there is a dissenting opinion when the decision isn’t unanimous.

      The supreme court implies most qualified, highly experienced justices with the strongest professional integrity. If the land doesn’t trust the majority verdict (even if it is just 5-4), then the whole concept of democracy is lost.

      Don’t forget, most elections these days are won with a slim majority of votes. Should elections be invalidated if the winner doesn’t win it in a landslide?

    2. I can understand why you might feel that way, but the whole point of the Supreme Court is that there can be a definitive decision, because there’s no higher authority to turn to (unless you want to give those powers to the president or congress, which would upset democratic oversight between the three branches).

      It’s perhaps unfortunate that the political leanings and philosophies of the court members can influence their selection, interpretation of the law, and rulings, but it is what it is, since no computer can reasonably accomplish that task, but justice, at the end of the day, can still be a subjective process.

      1. i think im upset with hilliarys answer at the last debate when asked about the how mindset and life experience of scotus appointees should trump strict constitutional tenants. or something like that. yes, i think it matters but im afraid she’s really talking about weaponizing scotus with overly ideological and political appointees the way the irs, doj and state dept has been abused. how much more corrupt a federal government can this country withstand. maybe, im being emotional.

        1. Sorry, but the Supreme Court has ALWAYS had ideological jurists, on both (every?) side of the political spectrum. You can’t get more political and ideological than Scalia, Thomas and Alito… or Ruth Bader Ginsberg or Sonia Sotomayor, for that matter. And the current Chief Justice Roberts is nothing BUT political.

        2. If you think that SCOTUS appointees from Trump or any other politician, Republican or Democrat, would be any less influenced by politics, then you are headed for serious disappointment and disillusionment.

          The intent of the Constitution should always be placed first and foremost. However, that involves interpretations of the document that will be influenced by a number of factors. Each justice has a different background and base of experience which lends a different perspective on the interpretation of the law. Men and women, for instance, will have different experiences on which to draw. The same applies to different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc. That is not a bad thing as long as the intent of the Constitution and the preeminence of individual rights is maintained as the foremost concern.

          Think about the current situation…Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has refused to even consider President Obama’s selection. In an unprecedented move, the Republicans decided to defer the matter for nearly a year in hopes that a Republican would be elected as POTUS. And Trump and the rest of the Republican party have been very clear on their objectives regarding the reshaping of Constitutional law with respect to abortion and other matters.

          Congress now applies “litmus tests” prior to confirming appointees in hopes that they can lock the Judicial branch of government into a certain set of behaviors for decades. It is really quite sad. Fortunately, it also often fails to achieve the desired objective.

  2. It is hard for MDN commenters to realize the total ignorance of details by the average “non-tech” citizen.

    Non-techys simply don’t read the likes of MDN, newspapers or listen to radio or TV news other than as something they pass by on the way out the door.

    These types of people just go into ATT, Verizon or Sprint and say “I need a cell phone.” “How much?” “Oooh, that one looks good and is $100 cheaper.”

    1. Yep! Two of my neighbors have “iPhones” and “iPads”. Actually of the 7 devices they own not one is made by Apple. They don’t even know the brand of what they’re using. They simply made the iPad and iPhone names generic since the outsides do like Apple products, until you turn them on and try to use them. Of course they want me to fix them since I have an iPhone and iPad as well.

  3. The VW Beetle is interesting. If you look at the Chrysler Airflow it had a lot of the same design elements of the Beetle years before. The car was way ahead of it’s time. I believe there is a picture of Dr. Porsche looking at one. ( For those who don’t know the Beetle was designed by Dr. Porsch for Hitler to be the German model T ). However the Beetle is a icon and most people never heard of the Airflow.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.