The Supreme Court Agrees to Review Design Patent Damages Rule

Today, the Court granted certiorari in the Apple v. Samsung case on the question of design patent damages. We filed an amicus brief in support of Samsung’s petition.

The Federal Circuit interpreted design patent damages law in a disastrous way. Based on the shape of the outer case of Samsung’s phones, it said that Apple was entitled to all of the profits made on the infringing phones. That’s absurd – there’s so much more to a smartphone other than the shape. The ruling defies common sense.

CCIA argued to the Court that this interpretation overreached in an unconstitutional way, and that the correct interpretation could be found by looking at a related statute, the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act.

We’re very glad to see that the Court will address this issue. If the Federal Circuit’s rule stands, we could see a new breed of design patent trolls, using design patents to threaten companies with the loss of all of their profits. Although a grant of cert is no guarantee, this is certainly a hopeful sign that the Supreme Court will fix the mess that is design patent damages law.

Matt Levy

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Matt Levy is Patent Counsel at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, where he handles legal, policy advocacy, and regulatory matters related to patents and is lead blogger for CCIA’s Patent Progress. He is recognized as an expert on patent litigation reform and is cited and quoted widely on the issue.

Matt joined the CCIA in 2013 from private practice, where he got first-hand experience in both patent prosecution and patent litigation, including defending clients against patent assertion entities.