Law School Case Brief
Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co. - 786 F.3d 983 (Fed. Cir. 2015)
In reciting that an infringer shall be liable to a patent owner to the extent of the infringer's total profit, 35 U.S.C.S. § 289 explicitly authorizes the award of total profit from the article of manufacture bearing the patented design. Several courts have concluded that § 289 authorizes such award of total profit, and the clear language of § 289 prevents the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit from adopting a "causation" rule.
Apple Inc. (Apple) sued Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC (collectively, Samsung) in April 2011. On August 24, 2012, the first jury reached a verdict that numerous Samsung smartphones infringed and diluted Apple's patents and trade dresses in various combinations and awarded over $1 billion in damages.
The infringed design patents claim certain design elements embodied in Apple's iPhone. The infringed utility patents claim certain features in the iPhone's user interface. The diluted trade dresses are Trademark Registration No. 3,470,983 ("'983 trade dress") and an unregistered trade dress defined in terms of certain elements in the configuration of the iPhone.
Following the first jury trial, the district court upheld the jury's infringement, dilution, and validity findings over Samsung's post-trial motion. The district court also upheld $639,403,248 in damages, but ordered a partial retrial on the remainder of the damages because they had been awarded for a period when Samsung lacked notice of some of the asserted patents. The jury in the partial retrial on damages awarded Apple $290,456,793, which the district court upheld over Samsung's second post-trial motion. On March 6, 2014, the district court entered a final judgment in favor of Apple, and Samsung filed a notice of appeal.
Did the district court err in confirming the jury's verdict that Samsung infringed utility patents and design patents Apple held on its smartphones, and awarding Apple reasonable royalties and all profits Samsung earned on smartphones they sold that infringed Apple’s design patents?
The evidence was sufficient to uphold the district court's judgment confirming the jury's verdict that Samsung infringed utility patents and design patents Apple held on its smartphones, and awarding Apple reasonable royalties because Samsung infringed the utility patents and all profits Samsung earned on smartphones they sold that infringed Apple’s design patents. On the other hand, the record did not support the district court's judgment confirming a jury's verdict awarding damages under 15 U.S.C.S. § 1125 to Apple, based on the jury's finding that Samsung committed trade dress infringement by manufacturing and selling smartphones that competed with Apple’s smartphones.
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