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Case Study on Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Patent Infringement

Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Patent Infringement

Law suits between electronic manufacturing companies have become rampant in the Federal Courts. One of the widespread lawsuits was between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Company limited. The case was based on the dispute between the design of smartphones and tablet computers between the two companies. More than half of smartphones were sold globally as of July 2012. Apple had begun to litigate against Samsung in a patent infringement suit whereas; Apple and Motorola Mobility were engaged in a patent war on several instances.

Design patents took core stage in the epic battle between two great electronic companies in the world; Apple Inc., and Samsung Electronics Company. What took place was a dispute centered on design rights between two titans in the electronic world. The case grip was felt not only in the legal fields, but also in the conventional media and press. The case came at the right time and more so during the advanced design era of smartphones and tablets.

In April 2011, Apple filled its complaint against Samsung in the U.S District Court of California. Apple accused Proofreading-EditingSamsung of infringing eight utility patents, six trade dress rights and seven design patents. Apple trimmed its allegations down to three utility patents, four design patents and four trade dress rights and this was after the urging of Judge Koh. Apple claimed that its intellectual property rights have been infringed by two Samsung tablets and 26 Samsung smartphones. Apple clarified that Samsung’s new acquired status was as a result of, copying its lavish product designs.

Apple repeatedly used different demonstratives at the trial to make its claims clear. It required the jury to look at the difference in appearance of the widely acclaimed and commercialized Samsung smartphones before and after the 2007 apple’s iPhone. To clarify their patent infringement allegations, Apple presented to the jury four asserted design patents.

This includes U.S patent Nos. D593, D618, 677; D504, 889 and D604, 305 whereas the D’087 and D’ 677 patents were both send to the ornamental appearance of the front part of the smartphone.  The D’889 appeared on the overall appearance of the Samsung tablet.  There are more features that Apple that claimed Samsung copied from them to come up with more unique designs.

When the functional element argument was brought forward, Samsung argued that all the asserted Apple design patents are “invalid” due to the fact that each claimed trait in the designs is functional and not ornamental. The basic coverage on the law of design patent infringement was also employed in the case. The first patent infringement test was laid down by United States Supreme Court in 1871 in Gorham Co.v. White.  On the Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics co. ltd patent infringement case serves a meaningful data points that can aid in reference in case of a similar case.

The jury was made in regard to distinctive findings on the difference between the patents and accused products. Apple is seeking $2 billion on damages. The trial began on April 2014 and by May 2nd 2014; Samsung was instructed to pay $119.6 million to apple for patent infringement on its smartphone designs. This is a good lesson to manufacturers of many electronics in the world as no one wants to be the design team for its rival corporation.

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