Apple and Samsung are headed to the Supreme Court today in a battle that could have a major impact on the “patent wars” that have dominated the tech sector.
As usual with the Supreme Court, this week’s hearing isn’t about the facts of the case as such. A lengthy series of hearings and appeals in lower courts concluded that Samsung did indeed copy three specific elements of the design of the iPhone, namely the bezel, the rounded corners and the way home screen icons appear in a grid.
Instead the Court will address a specific point of law and how it’s interpreted. The total damages of nearly a billion dollars included a $548 million portion which represented Samsung’s entire profits on the handsets that breached Apple’s design patents.
Samsung wants that amount reduced by at least $399 million. It says the existing rules for damages on design (rather than functionality) patents in technology are unfair because the design element only makes up a small part of the appeal of the device to buyers. The BBC notes that the rules date back to a design patent case involving carpets, where design was often the only distinguishing feature.
Though both sides will make their case today, a ruling isn’t expected until next summer.