Felix Pergande - Fotolia
The US Supreme Court has granted Samsung the opportunity to win back up to $399m of the $548m the South Korean company paid Apple for infringing patents related to the iPhone.
The rival smartphone and tablet makers have been locked in legal battles since 2011, when Apple first sued Samsung in the US for alleged intellectual property infringements.
Following the latest ruling by the US Supreme Court, the patent fight between Apple and Samsung is set to drag on for a sixth consecutive year.
Apple was initially awarded $930m in damages that was subsequently reduced to around $548m after a series of appeals by Samsung.
The US court of appeals upheld the patent infringement verdict, but said the iPhone’s appearance could not be protected through trademarks.
Apple had originally sought $2.5bn in damages from Samsung, claiming the South Korean firm had copied designs for the bodies and user interfaces of the original iPhone and iPad.
Samsung agreed to pay $548m in December 2015, but reserved the right to claim reimbursement, which it is now doing on the basis that it did not copy every design aspect of the iPhone.
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The South Korean company is claiming back $399m because it says the $548m was based on Samsung’s total profits from the smartphones found to infringe on the iPhone’s design.
The US Supreme Court agreed with Samsung and has referred the matter back to the Federal Court of Appeals to review the $548m figure.
The court said a patent infringer does not always have to hand over total profits from products involved if the infringements relate only to certain components and not the whole product.
The case was reportedly the first design patent dispute to reach the US Supreme Court in 120 years.
In a statement to TechCrunch, Samsung hailed the court’s “landmark decision” as a victory for all those who promote creativity, innovation and fair competition in the marketplace.
“We thank our supporters from the world’s leading technology companies, the 50 intellectual property professors, and the many public policy groups who stood with us as we fought for a legal environment that fairly rewards invention and fosters innovation,” the company said.
However, Apple issued a statement saying that the question before the Supreme Court was how to calculate the amount Samsung should pay for their copying.
“Our case has always been about Samsung’s blatant copying of our ideas, and that was never in dispute. We will continue to protect the years of hard work that has made iPhone the world’s most innovative and beloved product. We remain optimistic that the lower courts will again send a powerful signal that stealing isn’t right,” the company said.