The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit wiped out (PDF) a sizable chunk of Apple’s biggest legal win today, overturning parts of a 2012 jury verdict against Samsung that entitled the iPhone maker to $930 million in damages.
Apple won that trial on both patent claims and claims related to “trade dress,” an amorphous part of trademark law. The Federal Circuit, which considers all patent appeals, said the trade dress claims weren’t legally justified and threw them out. The Federal Circuit is leaving it to the lower court to issue a final judgment, but since those claims accounted for $382 million of Apple’s big win, that’s how much Apple is expected to lose. It’s more than 40 percent of the verdict winnings, leaving $548 million on the table for Apple to collect.
In the view of the appeals judges, the iPhone’s trade dress isn’t protectable at all, because it’s more functional than decorative. While Apple witnesses focused on the phone’s “beauty,” Samsung cited “extensive evidence in the record that showed the usability function of every single element in the unregistered trade dress.” Things like rounded corners improve “pocketability” and “durability.” The court also considered Apple’s icons, packed 16 to a screen on iPhone 3 and iPhone 4, and found them not protectable as trade dress.
Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Leave a Reply