WASHINGTON, March 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a patent case considering Samsung's appeal of a lower court's ruling it infringed on an Apple cellphone design.
At issue is whether a $548 million financial penalty Samsung was ordered to pay Apple after a jury concluded it infringed on iPhone patents is excessive.
At issue are not the technological elements of either phone, which are covered under utility patents, but design patents, which refer to the shape or outward appearance of a product. Apple and Samsung have sued each other regularly over the mater.
Apple won a victory in 2012, when a California federal jury agreed Samsung had infringed on Apple designs, notably the Galaxy's rounded edges and colorful on-screen icons. A hoped-for $2.75 billion settlement was reduced to $1 billion, and then to $548 million after a series of appeals. In December, Samsung agreed to pay Apple $548 million with the unusual stipulation that the money would be returned if the patents were ruled invalid or if Samsung won a case on appeal. A ruling by the Supreme Court case would decide which company keeps the money.
In petitioning the Supreme Court, Samsung argued the jury was improperly allowed to find infringement based merely on "overall appearance ... Even if the patented features contributed 1 percent of the value of Samsung's phones, Apple gets 100 percent of Samsung's profits."