For the first time in more than a century, the US Supreme Court will hear an appeal in a design patent case that some media observers say "could set a precedent with ripple effects throughout the tech industry." On March 21, 2016, the nation's highest court agreed to hear an appeal from Samsung on what it must pay Apple in a case that contended Samsung infringed on iPhone design. The US Supreme Court could get the case in October 2016.
Samsung had filed a request with the US Supreme Court in December 2015, after the South Korea-based company was ordered to pay $548 million in damages to California-based Apple. Now, Samsung says, "We welcome the Court's decision to hear our case. The Court's review of this case can lead to a fair interpretation of patent law that will support creativity and reward innovation."
Several companies, including Google, Facebook, Dell, eBay and Hewlett Packard, filed "friend of the court," or amicus, briefs in support of Samsung.
Apple isn't commenting now, but in its brief to the high court it argued that "the innovation and beauty of Apple's design were not only hailed by consumers and the press, but envied by Apple's fiercest competitor Samsung."
The New York Times reports the justices have agreed to decide only one of the two questions on which Samsung sought review: "Where a design patent is applied to only a component of a product, should an award of infringer’s profits be limited to those profits attributable to the component?”
The Associated Press reports the case involves common smartphone features for which Apple holds patents: the flat screen; the rectangular shape with rounded corners; a rim; and a screen of icons.