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Samsung v Apple – US Supreme Court decides on calculation of damages

The US Supreme Court has made a unanimous decision regarding calculation of damages on the sale of products that are found to infringe registered designs.  Apple had previously been awarded $399 million in damages for Samsung’s sale of smartphones which infringed Apple’s designs.  These damages constituted Samsung’s entire profits from the sale of infringing smartphones.  The relevant US law states that a person who manufactures or sells any infringing “article of manufacture” shall be liable to the extent of the total profit.


Samsung argued that the damages should be limited because the relevant infringing article of manufacture was the front face of the phone, rather than the entire smartphone.  The Federal Circuit had reasoned that such a limit was not required because the components of the smartphone were not sold separately to ordinary consumers.


In a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court, it was held that damages need not be calculated on the basis of the whole end product sold to the consumer, but may be based on only a component of that product.  However, this is not quite a sigh of relief for Samsung: the Supreme Court declined to rule whether in this particular case, the relevant infringing “article of manufacture” for which damages should be calculated was the smartphone or the particular infringing component. So it is left to the Federal Circuit to determine whether Samsung’s order for damages should be limited.


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