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Apple’s Patent Fight with Samsung Makes Designers Come Out in favor of the Former

Apple’s Patent Fight with Samsung Makes Designers Come Out in favor of the Former
A group of design industry professionals told the U.S. Supreme Court that the design and look of the iPhone is distinctive which drives people to purchase it and hence Apple Inc deserved the hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd that the latter paid for infringing patented designs of the iPhone.
More than 100 designers and educators signed on to a new court brief supporting Apple that has set up a clash between a number of Silicon Valley companies that have come out on the side of Samsung and Apple, the U.S. tech giant.
Alexander Wang, the industrial design director at Parsons School of Design, the design director for Bentley Motors, Tony Chambers, the editor-in-chief of Wallpaper magazine and famous fashion names Calvin Klein, Paul Smith were among those designers and educators who signed the statement.
Contending a part of the $548 million it paid Apple last December related to a jury verdict from 2012, Samsung has appealed to the Supreme Court. Samsung claims as excessive  the $399 million of that amount that was awarded in the verdict for the South Korean company to pay up to Apple as fine for allegedly copying the designs of the iPhone's rounded-corner front face, bezel and grid of icons. Samsung also claimed that the above features which were allegedly copied from the iPhone bore only a marginal role to a complex product.
Claiming that the South Korean electronics company stole the look of the iPhone and its technology, Apple had sued Samsung in 2011.
While overturning Samsung's liability for trademark infringement, the 2012 patent infringement verdict was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington last May.
Following a review petition in the supreme court where Samsung had pleaded the court to look into the issue of whether the profits made from an entire product that infringes a design patent can be applied to the entire product when the alleged infringements play a very minimal role in the entire product and when the patent is applicable only to a component of the product. This lea was agreed to be heard by the judges in March.
The "look of the product comes to represent the underlying features, functions, and total user experience" in the minds of consumers, the designers said very recently to the court.
They said that Apple deserves to be compensated for that with the infringer's entire profits as stealing a design can lead to a lost sale.
In addition to Silicon Valley heavyweights such as Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc unit Google, which makes the Android operating system used in Samsung's phones, Samsung has had a number of trade groups come out on its side that also included The Internet Association.
Samsung spokeswoman Danielle Meister Cohen said in an email that the Federal Circuit decision "could lead to diminished innovation, pave the way for design troll patent litigation and negatively impact the economy and consumers” if not reversed.
The case is Samsung Electronics Co Ltd v. Apple Inc, in the Supreme Court of the United States, No. 15-777.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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