25 October 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

New Apple v Samsung trial ordered

Apple and Samsung’s long running design patent dispute has been reopened at the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

California district court Judge Lucy Koh has ordered a new trial on damages for Apple’s three design patents, which cover the iPhone’s screen shape, round corners, and bezel and icons.

Last year, in a unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court reversed a US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s $399 million damages to Apple, finding that its narrower reading of ‘article of manufacture’ “cannot be squared with the text of Section 289 of the US Patent Act”.

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayer concluded that ‘article of manufacture’ is broad enough to encompass both a product sold to a consumer and a component of that product.

Sotomayer said: “A component of a product, no less than the product itself, is a thing made by hand or machine. That a component may be integrated into a larger product, in other words, does not put it outside the category of articles of manufacture.”

The Supreme Court was remanded to the Federal Circuit, where Apple asked that the damages award be reaffirmed.

Samsung asked the Federal Circuit to remand the case to the US District Court for the Eastern District of California for a new trial on damages.

The Federal Circuit did neither and instead agreed to “remand this case to the district court for further proceedings, which may or may not include a new damages trial”.

The new trial in the Californian court will include a test for determining the article of manufacture for Section 289, which will cover the scope of the design claimed in Apple’s patent, the prominence of the design within the product as a whole, whether the design is conceptually distinct from the product as a whole and the physical relationship between the patented design and the rest of the product.

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