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PublishedMarch 21, 2016

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

Previously, Matt was patent counsel at the Computer & Communications Industry Association

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