U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules for Samsung in Apple patent damages dispute; case sent back to lower court

“The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled for Samsung in a dispute over damages related to Apple’s iPhone design,” Anita Balakrishnan reports for CNBC. “The ruling allows a reconsideration of some damages Samsung owes Apple.”

“At dispute is $399 million dollars, representing profits from 11 Samsung smartphone models, which Samsung was ordered to pay Apple,” Balakrishnan reports. “That penalty is based on a federal law that says that a party copying and applying a patented design to “any article of manufacture” is liable “to the extent of his total profit.”

Balakrishnan reports, “The justices in their 8-0 ruling sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Let’s face it: Apple’s legal team blows.

Read the court’s opinion here.

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.

Why the U.S. Supreme Court asked if Apple’s iPhone design is like a Volkswagen Beetle – October 12, 2016
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. Despite losing this particular appeal, Apple could still end up with the $399 million, and that is perhaps even likely. All the Supreme Court did was say that the logic used by the lower court was flawed and not universally applicable. It might have produced a just outcome for this case, but would be bad in other cases.

      After reading the opinion, it looks like the Supreme Court made the correct call regarding what the law is. What is important to remember is that the Supreme Court has to look at the RULES used to make a decision and make sure those rules work for all cases, not just the one in front of them. If they approve a rule that produces a good decision in this cases, but unjust in others, they’ve failed. Here, they said the rule used by the lower court is not valid for all situations, and thus not a valid rule.
      They didn’t say that Apple should not get the $399 million, just that the rule the lower court used is not a valid rule. What they said was that what constitutes an “article of manufacture” must be decided on a case-by-case basis. So, it goes back to the lower courts, who CAN decide that, here, it makes sense to view the entire phone as the “article of manufacture” whose total profits should be handed over.

      Here’s the most important part of the opinion:
      “The only question we resolve today is whether, in the case of a multi-component product, the relevant “article of manufacture” must always be the end product sold to the consumer or whether it can also be a component of that product. Under the former interpretation, a patent holder will always be entitled to the infringer’s total profit from the end product. Under the latter interpretation, a patent holder will sometimes be entitled to the infringer’s total profit from a component of the end product.”

      In other words, Apple could end of with the same $399 million judgment against Samsung, and I think that is likely. The problem is the way the lower court MADE its decision could lead to bad decisions in other cases. The Supreme Court has to worry about all the other cases and how they would be affected by a court’s logic, not just whether that logic makes a fair outcome for a single case.

      1. But, F2T2 is right on the legal team from Apple failing (I don’t think F2T2 is right on much else in the world, but…yep):
        They apparently failed to provide any argument to the Supreme Court on what the rules SHOULD be when determining whether the profits from a component or entire end product should be forfeit. So, the Supreme Court decided to say “You didn’t really give us any arguments to pick from, so you’ll have to give them back in the lower court now” (paraphrased). Here’s exactly what they said about that:

        “The parties ask us to go further and resolve whether, for each of the design patents at issue here, the relevant article of manufacture is the smartphone, or a particular smartphone component. Doing so would require us to set out a test for identifying the relevant article of manufacture at the first step of the §289 damages inquiry and to parse the record to apply that test in this case. The United States as amicus curiae suggested a test, see Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 27–29, but Samsung and Apple did not brief the issue. We decline to lay out a test for the first step of the §289 damages inquiry in the ab- sence of adequate briefing by the parties. Doing so is not necessary to resolve the question presented in this case, and the Federal Circuit may address any remaining issues on remand.”

        Ugh. Good job, Apple legal. If you had bothered to brief this well, the Supreme Court might have decided to make your brief into the law of the country. Instead, you get to ping-pong back down to the lower courts.

    2. Apple lost the case way back when judge Koh limited the extensive design theft case to about 11 patents that were relatively weak individually. Samsung must have thought all their birthdays and Christmas’s had come at once. This allowed Samsung to pick each patent off individually. The Apple lawyers should never have let this happen. Samsung then paid for a media campaign that the case was all about rounded corners, making a few patents seem even weaker. Samsung then sucessfully made the case that the justified billion dollar damages verdict be reduced to a few million.

  1. Eight (8) seriously BIG checks were signed and delivered to these injustices. January 20 can not come soon enough. Follow the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    There will never be any Apple justice or retribution through our corrupt court systems. Pathetic.

    1. That is a very serious accusation. If this were some banana republic, (or Russia), one could plausibly accept such an accusation just on its face value. In the US, however, things are a bit more transparent, and it would be rather difficult to bribe the US supreme court without anyone noticing.

      I’m really not quite sure what can a different president change with respect to these eight justices. To remind those who are uninformed, US president can only nominate (and senate confirm) judges to the supreme court when there is a vacancy. The new president will, therefore, only be able to appoint one justice (for now). For those people who favour conservatives, that only means that the ideological composiiton of the court could be brought, at best, to the status of a year ago (before the most conservative of the justices at the time, Scalia, died).

      1. I agree, Predrag. These baseless accusations must stop. People need to be held accountable for spewing this type of crap.

        As far as the SCOTUS goes, the only reason that even one justice seat is open is because the GOP-led Senate took the unprecedented step of refusing to even consider nominees when many months remained until the next presidential election. That’s right, we apparently only elect presidents for three years now…the fourth year belongs to Congress.

        Highly improper and dangerous step, GOP Congress. History will not remember the Bush and Trump administrations or the GOP Congressional representatives fondly.

        1. Predrag & KingMel,

          I agree that making those sorts of accusations undercuts the critical function of the judiciary in a democracy—the ability to make decisions that may be unpopular but will nonetheless be respected and obeyed. The same applies to the executive and legislative branches—they can only function if the people voluntarily submit to the rule of law. The only alternatives are anarchy (everybody defies authority) or authoritarianism (everybody submits only out of fear).

          Comments like some of those on this thread are well down the garden path to the famous quote of President Jackson: “Well, the Supreme Court has ruled [that I can’t dispossess the Civilized Tribes from their ancestral property]; let them enforce that ruling.” Everything becomes a question of naked power without any consideration of justice.

          However, bear in mind that some of the folks pushing this conspiracy theory are also pushing #pizzagate, the notion that a perfectly ordinary family restaurant in Washington hides the entrance to a set of tunnels where Hillary Clinton and John Podesta are running a pedophile operation. The same folks (Alex Jones, et al.) believe that nobody was really harmed at Sandy Hook Elementary—the school had been closed for years and all the alleged victims and family members were played by paid actors. The entire population of the surrounding community, tens of thousands of people, deny this only because they are part of the conspiracy.

          In short, we are not necessarily dealing any more with a society that respects evidence-based truth when it conflicts with “truthiness” (something that SHOULD be true, but cannot be proved). Apple should win every lawsuit, and if it doesn’t it can only be because its lawyers are incompetent and the judges are on the take.

        2. > I agree, Predrag. These baseless accusations must stop.
          > People need to be held accountable for spewing this type of crap.

          Unlikely that anyone at MDN would step up to the plate, and actually clean house of the trolls that have infested their forums – seeing as how directly profit from page views, and this forum arguments generate page views for them.

          They couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything about the App Store spam advertisements a while back, which they also directly profit from, so why would they care – particularly when MDN ownership and management are of the exact same leanings than the trolls?

  2. Pipeline Tim strikes again.
    They cannot do iPhones and Mac at the same time, but have endless resources for watch bands, rental music and store redecoration.

    I am glad I stopped buying Apple stock at roughly $300 a share. The thing has been rangebound since the split and has pissed away a fortune with stock buybacks and dividends, yet is still buying components from Scamsung.

          1. Right, because just like your boy, you only lose if the other guy cheats, right?? That is total BS. The only people squawking about a voting scam are you and your ilk…hmmm.

            Face it, you are often wrong and you compound those mistakes by being unwilling or unable to recognize that fact. You are a joke and of no real consequence in the real world.

  3. Considering that Apple’/ blowing legal team initially won the case, and the awarded $1 billion in damages, it doesn’t appear they blow so much, does it?

    Personally, I wouldn’t trust MDN’/ legal opinion, experience, or understanding one iota.

    1. Apple’s legal team has not won a major case through all steps of appeal since the Franklin case. Apple’s legal team even loses to organizations that are 100% patent trolls. Apple’s legal team has been at best sub par since the mid 80s.

      MDN is being soft of Apple’s legal team.

        1. Doing business with them? I thought it was an internal legal team to save outsourcing costs. Which when I think about it makes it worse since they really only have the one job of protecting Apple.

            1. Oh, ok. Then the answer would probably be that no one else seems to be able to handle Apple’s enormous components order properly or what Apple considers at reasonable cost to maintain their margin.

  4. The ruling is very procedural and not an indictment of the Apple team. The Supreme Court, 8-0 mind you so no conservative/liberal problem here, said that they didn’t understand how the award was calculated and asked the lower court to clarify the amount. Once they receive that information they’ll review the appeal from Samsung again.

    1. I would say it IS an indictment of the Apple legal team if how the award was calculated was not briefed CRYSTAL FUCKING CLEAR for the Supreme Court to make a decision on.

      It’s just one dickbrained decision after another…
      Pipeline Timmy has got to go.

      1. I strongly suspect that in your strange little mind you perceive yourself as a cross between Superman, Albert Einstein, Sherlock Holmes, and divinity. Too bad that everyone is not as gifted as you.

        …remind me again why, if you are so intelligent, you are just another anonymous, no-account fsck trolling the MDN forum? Thought so…

      2. The Supreme Court was reading documents handed to them from the lower court not from the Apple team or Samsung team. In fact this would have been before either legal team would have had their initial audience with the Supreme Court. The only outside document they would have received was the appeal request from Samsung. The lower court came up with an amount, substantially reduced from the original amount, and used criteria that the higher court didn’t understand from the documents. This could be as simple as the court not being well-versed in the tech issues that were judged upon and they need additional information to understand the case.

    2. The problem with an 8-0 ruling saying to the lower court that the calculations are not clear enough is that it *VERY STRONGLY* implies that the calculations were not correct, *and* it allows Samsung to come in and argue that since the calculations were not clear they certainly were not correct. Plus, since they were not correct they were not based upon real values. Further, because they were not correct and not based upon real valued they should be thrown out completely.

      That *is* what Samsung will argue. You can bet your life and the lives of all the people important to you that this is what Samsung will argue — at the very least in chambers, if not in formal filings.

      Apple’s legal team should have known that Samsung would make every possible argument to undermine the award. Apple’s team getting slapped with an 8-0 ruling says that Apple’s team did an extremely poor job explaining why the dollar value of the award was based upon real world impacts to Apple.

      Apple’s legal team has been a joke since the 80s when they allowed the license to Microsoft for the Macintosh System Software source code to include the wording “and subsequent versions”, which allowed Microsoft to use that source code as a crutch all the way up until Windows 95. Without that crutch Apple might never have lost its lead and the Dark Days might never have occurred.

      Another major fiasco was the iBook case. Apple’s legal team did virtually everything wrong in that one from allowing the DoJ to improperly claim there was a “most favored nation clause” in the contracts (there wasn’t, it was a “best customer clause”) to allowing comments made during negotiations to be presented by the DoJ as if they were the final terms in the agreement and “meeting of the minds” in the contracts.

      The number of failures of the Apple legal team since the Franklin case is legend. If there are not already, there will be within the next few years, case studies of how Apple’s legal team has *repeatedly* blown it for Apple.

      1. What do you believe is the difference between Most Favored Nation (sometimes referred to as ‘most favored customer’) and Best Customer clauses? Doing a simple search will bring up numerous results that say they are one and the same.

      1. They could but they probably won’t. It really is not in Apple’s ‘DNA’ to choose to handle manufacturing of any kind if they can outsource the liability and cost uncertainties elsewhere.

  5. Well, there is always karma to depend on when you consider that the Note 7 fiasco cost SameDung around $6 billion and Apple having record sales with the iPhone 7/7+. That’s much more than the legal system could ever have awarded Apple.

    1. Which is also the reason why Apple dropped all other lawsuits – Samsung is damaging itself plenty.

      Taking all components business away from them is also underway – they lost all display business, and once TSMC and Intel came online for CPUs, they can kiss all the remaining component business good bye.

  6. Everyone needs to take a deep breath. This was a narrow ruling and the justices did not reverse everything the lower court decided. Considering that SCOTUS spent some time looking up the definition of “article of manufacture” I’d say we have a problem with the way the patent law is written. It’s time to start lobbying congress to address antiquated terminology in the patent law.

    Apple will receive some kind of compensation from Samsung but it will be a small percentage of the $399M.

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