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The Expenses of Design Patent Infringement

post Monday September 3, 2012

Apple iPhone2; from FreeDigitalPhotos

The Federal District Court in San Jose California has ruled in favor of Apple. Samsung was found guilty of willfully infringing on Apple’s patents, including utility patents, design patents and trade dress. Apple was awarded $1.05 billion in damages. According to Mark Summerfield, a registered Australian patent attorney and the primary author of Patentology blog, much of the damage assessed is likely attributed to the design and trade dress infringement. He explained the specific reason for the high awards for design patent infringement, as stated below:

For design patents, the option of an account of profits was retained, now in Section 289 of the US Patent Code:

Whoever during the term of a patent for a design, without license of the owner, (1) applies the patented design, or any colorable imitation thereof, to any article of manufacture for the purpose of sale, or (2) sells or exposes for sale any article of manufacture to which such design or colorable imitation has been applied shall be liable to the owner to the extent of his total profit, but not less than $250, recoverable in any United States district court having jurisdiction of the parties [emphasis added].

The law therefore authorizes the award of compensation equivalent to the total profit made by the infringer, regardless of the extent to which the infringement may have contributed to that profit.

As the patent war heated up between the two global technology giants, they are filing lawsuits against each other in nine other countries. However, the Tokyo courts ruled in favor of Samsung.

The discussion over the verdict seems to be controversial. Some say that Apple’s victory would restrict the design innovation of the industry, while others argue that it will push Apple’s competitors to invest in creating new products instead of blatantly copying the work of other’s.

The Apple vs Samsung saga is not over yet. On August 31, Apple filed an amended complaint against Samsung adding new patent violations to the list. On September 20, there will be a ruling on injunctions, deciding if and which Samsung products need to be pulled from the US market. Meanwhile, Samsung is set for pursuing appeals and the company intends to sue Apple if it releases an LTE-capable iPhone.

Souce: Huffington Post, First Post, Patentology, Mashable

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