Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. was a great patent war regarding the design of smartphones and tablet computers; between the two giants i.e. Apple and Samsung. The companies had made more than half of smartphones sold worldwide as of July 2012. In 2011, Apple had initiated proceedings against Samsung on grounds of patent infringement. Apple by virtue of petitions accused Samsung of infringing on their three utility patents i.e. United States Patent Nos. (7,469,381), (7,844,915) and (7,864,163), and four design patents i.e. United States Patent Nos. (D504,889), (D593,087), (D618,677), and (D604,305). Samsung in retaliation used the standard defence of Apple infringing their patent rights. The heart and irony of the litigation was the patent no. (D504, 889) which consists of a one-sentence claim about the ornamental design of an electronic device, accompanied by nine figures depicting a thin rectangular cuboid with rounded corners. A U.S. jury trial was scheduled for July 30, 2012 and calendared by the court through September 7, 2012 and was consequently testified by Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall .
This case is a simple and a clear indication of patent infringement of Apple’s patent. Considering a situation if similar circumstances, the United States of America has formulated statutes in order to avoid patent infringement. The United States patent law is authorised by the constitution of the United States under Article 1, section 8, clause 8, which reads as
“The Congress shall have power … To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;”
The essential ingredients of a patent have been penned down in §101, §102 and §103 of the United States Patent Law. Similar to the provisions under the Indian Patent Act, the United Stated Patent Law safeguards the existing patents. §271 of the Patent Law is articulated in order to define the act of infringement and its extent. It extends to usage, sale, deliver, production of patent invention by the intruder. Unlike the Indian Patent Act, it goes ahead to include even inducers to such an act as intruders and infringers.
The ruling in the landmark patent case raised controversies over the impact on the consumers and the smartphone industry. The jury’s decision was described as being ‘Apple-friendly’ by “Wired” and a possible reason for the increased costs, because of licensing fees to Apple, that subsequently affected Android smartphone users. This case was a clear indication of majority rule since the judgment was passed in favor of Apple by virtue of 8-0 majority. The point to be noted in this case was the reversal of the Supreme Court to the Federal Circuit as the court went ahead to analyse the minutest objects of the “article of manufacture” i.e. the screen.
Written by – Sarvesh Giri