The Supreme Court sided with Samsung in its years long battle with Apple Tuesday, striking down a $399 million judgement assessed by a lower court for allegedly infringing on the design of the iPhone.
In a unanimous ruling written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Court concluded that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which decides patent disputes, incorrectly construed the meaning of the term “article of manufacture” too narrowly. In effect, Apple can collect damages from Samsung for the infringement of specific components of the iPhone, but cannot seek damages for infringement of the entire product. The Federal Circuit ordered Samsung to forfeit all profits generated in connection with its sale of smartphones, which totaled $399 million.
The case will now return to the Federal Circuit for further review. Though the ruling is a victory for Samsung, it still faces the prospect of paying out a hefty sum as the case continues to unfold.
The case also served as something of a proxy battle for other information, telecommunications, and technology companies. Google, Dell, Facebook, and Hewlett Packard filed an amicus (or “friend of the court”) brief in support of Samsung. (RELATED: We Got The Surest Sign Yet That Apple Plans To Eat Elon Musk’s Lunch)
Apple first brought the case against Samsung in 2007, alleging that practically all of the company’s smartphones had substantially infringed on its patented design of the iPhone. The dispute has been litigated in nearly a dozen countries including the U.S., South Korea, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
The justices also handed down rulings covering insider trading and false claims Tuesday. Both decisions were also unanimous.
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