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Supreme Court to step into Apple vs. Samsung strain

The US Supreme Court, which hasn't looked at a design patent case since the 1800s, could set a precedent with ripple effects throughout the tech industry. Apple's years-long fight with Samsung Electronics over design patents will make its way to the Supreme Court. The nation's highest court on Monday agreed to review the case.


Samsung filed a request with the Supreme Court in December to re-examine the case after losing in court to Apple, which resulted in Samsung's requirement to pay Apple $548 million. Apple shot back in February, calling the case "legally unexceptional" and asking the Supreme Court not to "prolong" the battle against Samsung. Apple also argued that the case didn't present a question important enough to require resolution at the top of the US judicial system. "We welcome the court's decision to hear our case," Samsung said in a statement Monday. "The court's review of this case can lead to a fair interpretation of patent law that will support creativity and reward innovation." Apple declined to comment.
A decision by the Supreme Court could have a ripple effect across the technology industry and ultimately impact the gadgets you buy because it could finally define the value of design work. For that reason, the case has drawn the attention of a wide number of legal experts, nonprofit groups and technology companies. Together, they filed six amicus, or "friend of the court," briefs in support of Samsung, urging the Supreme Court to consider the case.
Samsung wants the Supreme Court to give guidance on what is covered by design patents, which protect the way an item is used and how it works and also include what damages can be collected.
The original Apple v. Samsung trial in 2012 pitted a pair of the world's largest tech companies against each other. The case captivated Silicon Valley and the tech industry because it exposed the inner workings of two notoriously secretive companies. It was just one of many trials around the world as the rivals sparred both in the marketplace and in the courtroom. At issue were design patents for a black, rectangular, round-cornered front face; a similar rectangular round-cornered front face plus the surrounding rim, known as the bezel; and a colorful grid of 16 icons.
Apple and Samsung last year agreed to bury the hatchet in their overseas cases, but their US suits have continued. In December, Samsung said it would pay Apple the $548 million ordered by court.
The next round of Apple vs. Samsung kicks is on March 28 in San Jose, California.
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