eDiscovery Daily Blog

Supreme Court Gives Samsung an Early Christmas Present – For Now: eDiscovery Case Law

We almost made it the entire year without an update on the ubiquitous Apple v. Samsung case.  Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, this long lasting case isn’t done yet.

As reported earlier this week by Greg Stohr of Bloomberg Law (Supreme Court Orders New Look at Apple’s Award From Samsung), the Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion (8-0) told a federal appeals court to take another look at a $399 million award won by Apple from Samsung for copying the design of the iPhone.

Writing for the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Apple might not be entitled to Samsung’s entire profit on 11 infringing smartphones. She told a federal appeals court to consider whether Apple should be able to recoup profits attributable only to particular components, a question which SCOTUS did not address.  Sotomayor said the lower court’s approach “cannot be squared with the text” of the federal patent statute. Design patents, which cover the ornamental look of an object rather than any functional aspect, are increasingly used by tech companies and makers of consumer products to differentiate their products from competitors. Believe it or not, SCOTUS hadn’t considered design patents since disputes involving spoon handles in the 1870s and carpets in the 1890s.  Technology has advanced a bit since then.

Google, Facebook Inc., EBay Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. said in filings that a victory for Apple would allow owners of design patents to extract unfair rewards on products that can have hundreds or even thousands of features.

We’ve covered Apple v. Samsung several times over the years, from our first post covering an adverse inference sanction that Samsung received in 2011 for failing to turn off “auto-delete” of emails after the case began to “patentgate” and the resulting $2 million sanction for an inadvertent disclosure made by Samsung’s outside counsel firm to our most recent post last year where we reported yet another stay that Samsung received in having to pay damages.  This case has it all: two tech titans going at it for 5+ years (so far) and eDiscovery failures as well.  Gotta love it.

In a year where it had to scrap production of its Note 7 device because of exploding batteries (a new report just released by a manufacturing tech company claims the design of the battery was too “aggressive”), Samsung does at least get some good news before the end of the year.  At least for now.

So, what do you think?  Will this case ever end?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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