Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Samsung’s Patent Loss to Apple Is Appealed to Supreme Court; New York Times, 12/14/15

Steve Lohr, New York Times; Samsung’s Patent Loss to Apple Is Appealed to Supreme Court:
"The case, if heard, could have far-reaching implications for design patents, which cover how a product looks, and the sort of financial penalties allowed under the law. Design patents are far less common than utility patents, which cover how a product functions.
The legal framework for design patents, according to Samsung, some other major technology companies and legal experts, is largely shaped by a 19th-century law intended to protect the designs of carpets, fireplace grates and ornamental spoons.
Back then, the design was the heart of such products, so seizing most or all of the gains of a copycat — known as the “total profit rule” — was justified. But today, a complex product like a modern smartphone is a dense bundle of intellectual property with more than 100,000 patents conceivably laying claim to some small aspect of the phone...
Beyond this case, design patents will probably get more legal attention in the future, said David J. Kappos, a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. As high-tech products become increasingly complex, the skill that yields a competitive advantage is making products easy to use. “And usability comes down to design,” said Mr. Kappos, a former director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office."

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