Samsung makes last-chance appeal to Supreme Court on Apple verdict

U.S. supreme court

The West Pediment located above the front entrance of the Supreme Court building.

Credit: US Supreme Court

The court is being asked to take a fresh look at 120-year-old case law

Samsung is attempting to take its years-old patent fight with Apple to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Monday, it filed an appeal asking the court to take a look at the rules regarding design patents -- rules that haven't been touched in 120 years.

The appeal comes on the same day Samsung is due to pay Apple $548 million in damages in relation to multiple patent claims and is something of a last-ditch effort by the company to reduce the overall total due.

It relates to an award of $399 million in damages for infringement of three design patents, which cover the face and rounded bezel design of the iPhone and the grid of 16 icons on the phone's home screen.

The damages award covered Samsung's entire profit from the phones it made that are covered by the lawsuit, something the company says is not only unfair but based on case law that's out of date.

"Samsung is escalating this case because it believes that the way the laws were interpreted is not in line with modern times," the company said in a statement.

Lawyers arrive for Apple Samsung case Martyn Williams

Lawyers arrive at the federal courthouse in San Jose with boxes of documents ahead of opening statements in the Apple v Samsung case on April 1, 2014.

Specifically, Samsung is asking the Supreme Court to provide rulings on two questions:

  • Where design patent includes features that don't contribute to the ornamental design, should a court limit the extent of the patent to just the ornamental features?
  • Where design patent applies to one component of a product, should the damages be limited to profits attributable just to that component?

Interpretation of the law as it was done in the case, Samsung argues, provides "a vehicle for design-patent holders to obtain unjustified windfalls far exceeding the conceivable value of any inventive contribution."

To win its argument, Samsung first has to persuade the Supreme Court to even hear the case. The court receives around 10,000 such appeals annually and has the time and energy to hear about 75 cases. And then, Samsung would have to successfully argue the case outlined in its appeal. Both are far from certain.

Monday's appeal isn't a surprise. Samsung said earlier this year that it planned to attempt to take its fight to the highest court in the U.S. Monday was the last day it could file its appeal.

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