New Trial on Damages Ordered in Apple-Samsung Melee

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – After nearly seven years and a run all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal judge has ordered a new trial to determine how much Samsung should pay Apple in their patent dispute over smartphone design.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh issued an order late Sunday saying the court must decide whether three patents held by Apple in connection to the iPhone design covers the entire smartphone design or just components.

Koh’s order comes after the U.S. Supreme Court set aside a $399 million jury award against Samsung in one of the most closely watched patent cases in modern history. In remanding the case, the justices said the specific aspects of patent infringement must be identified and then the total profit from those specific infringements must be calculated in order to determine an award for damages.

“It explained that “[a]rriving at a damages award under § 289 . . . involves two steps,” Koh wrote in the 35-page decision, explaining the Supreme Court’s ruling. “First, identify the ‘article of manufacture’ to which the infringed design has been applied. Second, calculate the infringer’s total profit made on that article of manufacture.”

A new trial – yet another installment in the 6 1/2-year-old case, is considered a setback for Apple, which urged Koh to keep the damages at $399 million.

But Samsung argued the Supreme Court said it could only be charged for the specific components that represented an infringement of Apple patents, a gambit Koh flatly rejected in her order.

“The U.S. Supreme Court held that “the term ‘article of manufacture’ is broad enough to embrace both a product sold to a consumer and a component of that product, whether sold separately or not,” Koh said in the ruling.

An article of manufacture is a term in patent law that refers to one of the four principal categories of things that may be patented, along with machines, methods and a chemical composition.

Examples of an articles of manufacture include hammers, dinner plates, shovels or any new object created by man or machine.

The Supreme Court’s extremely narrow ruling in the Apple-Samsung case simply held that the article of manufacture category not only applies to a produce as a whole, such as a smartphone, but to components of that product – like a smartphone’s rectangular face.

Koh believes the court must now decide whether Samsung infringed the entire iPhone design with its own line of smartphones, including the Galaxy, or whether it only infringed components of the design.

If the latter, the court must then decide the proportion of profits Samsung from the specific component and award damages accordingly, Koh said.

Koh said a new trial is needed because she did not properly instruct the jury as to the definition of article of manufacture issued by the Supreme Court in an opinion written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The three patents at issue are related to the design of the iPhone, with its rectangular shape, its rounded corners, and the array of colorful icons on the front screen.

Silicon Valley has closely watched the case, with many industry titans saying a win for Apple could spawn several costly lawsuits filed by holders of design patents on widely used products in computing and mobile technology.

Originally filed in April 2011, Apple’s lawsuit included claims of design patent infringement and others.

Jurors initially awarded Apple a little more than a billion dollars in damages, which was later reduced.

Neither tech giant returned emails seeking comment for the story.

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