back to article US Supreme Court slashes Samsung's patent payout to Apple

Samsung has claimed a Supreme Court victory that will see its $400m patent damages bill to Apple significantly reduced. The highest court in America ruled that the damages were incorrectly calculated and ordered a Californian district court to take another look at the case to calculate a smaller bill for the South Korean …

  1. LDS Silver badge

    Yes, but it has FOUR corners!

    So the damage has to be multiplied by FOUR!!

    (Disclaimer: I'm trying to become an Apple lawyer and become rich working in stupid cases like these)

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: Yes, but it has FOUR corners!

      You've just given me a great product idea--the triangular iPhone knock-off. Only 3 rounded corners, so I immediately lower my legal exposure by 25%!!

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes, but it has FOUR corners!

        You're almost there: ===> O <===

        Get me?

        1. Vector

          @BigJohn Re: Yes, but it has FOUR corners!

          I'm sorry, but since your corners cannot be discerned, your damages will be increased by infinity.

      2. Mephistro

        Re: Yes, but it has FOUR corners! (@ Marketing Hack)

        I think you should go further and make your phone with two corners and a half or even two corners. Bigger savings!

        1. Chemist

          Re: Yes, but it has FOUR corners! (@ Marketing Hack)

          Fractal Fhone ®

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Yes, but it has FOUR corners!

      Sorry, you fail. It is a three dimensional rectangle, thus has 8 corners and so damages must be multiplied by at least that much.

      If I had half an hour I'd try and wangle time as another dimension to double it up again to 16 as the phone is a four dimensional entity in space and time....

  2. getHandle

    The real irony

    Is that Samsung did copy but the patents were trivial to start with. Does that really warrant paying the bloody lawyers so much money?? This is why we can't have nice things.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: The real irony

      But if you studied law instead of engineering/computer science, this would be the reason WHY you can have nice things!

      I guess the Einstein-ian takeaway that "its all relative" is something that fits on a sci-tech website

      1. Magani

        Re: The real irony

        People study arts/law because they're incapable of getting into engineering/science.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: The real irony

      Does that really warrant paying the bloody lawyers so much money??

      The lawyers certainly think so...

    3. JeffyPoooh

      Re: The real irony

      gH noted that "...the patents were trivial to start with."

      Yes, *Design* Patents usually are.

      Can be one page.

      Can be "Smartphone with rounded corners like this sketch..."

      As opposed to Utility Patents.

      Which is where the confusion on this point lies.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I feel sorry for Apple. It must have cost that company a billion dollars to invent a rectangle with rounded corners.

  4. Wade Burchette Silver badge

    When this is all done

    When all of this is done, Apple will have spent $400,000,000 on fancy lawyers and Samsung will have spent $400,000,000 fighting the fine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When this is all done

      Ré $400 million each on lawyers.

      I think you missed a few noughts out; if I remember correctly both sides have already spent more than the value of the fine fighting this case.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When this is all done

      The lawyer cost is for future savings. The idea being that if you are big enough to fight of any action *especially* when you are prepared to spend more on lawyers than the actual cost of the award you dampen massively the enthusiasm for litigation against you in future - especially for marginal cases like this one.

      In the UK there was a council who decided to fight all compensation cases against it where it felt the claimant was not legitimate - previously they had just paid up as the cost of settling was lower than taking it to court. This resulted in significant cost savings as less "no win - no fee" decided to take them on for marginal claims, or would quickly back down if they did. It took a bit of "short term pain", but did result in "long term gain".

  5. Oh Homer

    "Study law"

    The problem with "IP" law is that it has almost no bearing on reality, and certainly no bearing on morality. It's mostly just a racket devised by corporate lobbyists, acting purely for the benefit of unworthy monopolists.

    Our perverse "IP" laws have done nothing to "give us nice things", in fact they quite explicitly inhibit any sort of progress, as Apple's fraudulent claim to the "invention" of rounded rectangles demonstrates quite admirably.

    It's worth noting that most of the real inventions that these monopolistic hypocrites benefit from was actually developed with taxpayers money (usually via military funding). Their petty aesthetics do not qualify as "invention", even if they were somehow original, which they aren't.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: "Study law"

      They gave us the sun-and-planet gear! Admittedly I'm struggling for any more examples.

      1. Oh Homer

        Re: "sun-and-planet gear"

        Actually that example only further proves the illegitimacy of the entire "IP" regime, since the sun and planet gear system was actually invented by "the Scottish engineer William Murdoch, an employee of Boulton and Watt, but was patented by James Watt", who didn't.

        "IP" is farcical, fraudulent and intrinsically plagiaristic. It's theft, pure and simple, which only makes the "IP" fraternity's ludicrous claims about "piracy" all the more ironic.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Alan Penzotti

    Here is some rounded corner prior art

    I believe these have been on the market since the 80's.

    1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Here is some rounded corner prior art

      Try looking at the farm which Prince Albert (he of the Queen Vic fame) had built near to Osborne House. Bricks were used which had rounded corners on door/window openings and at the building corners to make them safer when farmhands were bumbling about. I have a feeling that may pre-date and mobile phone, not just the iPhone.

    2. Sleep deprived

      Re: Here is some rounded corner prior art

      Coghlan even preceded Snapchat in inventing the self-deleting selfie!

    3. Oh Homer

      Re: Here is some rounded corner prior art

      I'll see your 1980s camping mirror, and raise you an Egyptian sarcophagus.

      But actually you don't need to go that far to discover the true origins of Apple's "invention. Just look at pretty much any flatscreen display since they were first sold, circa 1997, at least a decade before Apple "invented" rounded rectangles.

  8. Cuddles Silver badge


    "a victory for... all those who promote creativity, innovation"

    Seriously? They're both just rectangles. Regardless of the nonsensical state of the patent industry and who the letter of the law says is at fault here, there was precisely zero creativity on display from any party here.

  9. theOtherJT

    I still can't grasp... the hell this ever made it to an appeals court.

    The first judge to ever hear this case should have invalidated the patent for being utterly and obviously trivial, fined the both of them for wasting the courts time, and put a stop to all this shit before it got rolling.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I still can't grasp...

      "fined the both of them for wasting the courts time"

      Both? Think that one through. There you are, minding your own business when someone takes you to court. The court decides you did nothing wrong but fines you anyway for defending yourself.

  10. Tikimon

    Prior Art - 1968

    I'm not the first to point this out. In 2001 A Space Odyssey, the astronauts aboard the Discovery were seen to use flat tablets with rounded corners. Granted that they were movie props, but the concept clearly predates Steve Job's aspirations to take credit for the creation of the universe.

  11. Gobhicks

    Facts, good story etc.

    The SCOTUS only decided a very narrow point here, which won't necessarily result in "slashed" (or even reduced) damages:

    "Held: In the case of a multicomponent product, the relevant “article of manufacture” for arriving at a §289 damages award need not be the end product sold to the consumer but may be only a component of that product...

    Because the term “article of manufacture” is broad enough to embrace both a product sold to a consumer and a component of that product, whether sold separately or not, the Federal Circuit’s narrower reading cannot be squared with §289’s text. Absent adequate briefing by the parties, this Court declines to resolve whether the relevant article of manufacture for each design patent at issue here is the smartphone or a particular smartphone component. Doing so is not necessary to resolve the question presented, and the Federal Circuit may address any remaining issues on remand."

    Basically, they've said that the lower court's reasoning was wrong, but declined to say whether the conclusion reached by that reasoning was also wrong.

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