Supreme Court to Hear Samsung's Appeal in Apple Patent Fight

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Samsung's case in its ongoing fight with Apple over mobile device patent infringement claims. This will mark the final round in a fight that started in 2011 where Apple was handed a landslide victory and Samsung took it on the chin.

Supreme Court to hear Samsung's patent infringement appealSupreme Court to hear Samsung's patent infringement appeal

The legal battle started with the two companies accusing each other of patent infringement related to smartphone and tablet designs. The jury in the 2011 case awarded Apple over US$900 million in damages, but Samsung has been systematically chipping away as Apple's victory over the years.

Samsung series of appeals has led to an agreement last December where the company agreed to pay Apple $548 million with the stipulation it gets that money back, plus interest, should the Supreme Court rule in its favor. The U.S. Court of Appeals also ordered a new trial to recalculate part of the damages awarded—a trial that will likely be put on hold pending the Supreme Court ruling.

Apple asked the Supreme Court to deny Samsung's hearing request, but it seems Samsung made a compelling enough argument to sway the Judges. That doesn't, however, mean they'll rule in Samsung's favor.

Samsung managed to get several friend of the court, or amicus, briefs saying a ruling in Apple's favor will stifle technology innovation and competition. Apple is arguing that companies won't have incentive to innovate if they can't protect their intellectual property.

According to Apple, Samsung copied the iPhone design after it was first introduced in 2007 and has been profiting from Apple's hard work ever since. Samsung is saying the iPhone look all smartphones sport now was simply a natural design progression, and that it's just coincidence they started releasing smartphones with a nearly identical look to Apple's after the first iPhone launch.

Samsung asked the Supreme Court to offer a ruling on whether or not courts should be restricted in how they limit the scope of patents in relation to ornamental features, and if awards from infringement rulings should be limited to component values, or entire products. The court agreed to offer a ruling on the second part, but will not look at the ornamental features element.

The Supreme Court won't hear the case until October at the earliest when its next term begins.

[Thanks to Reuters for the heads up]