Apple vs Samsung: tech giants head to the US Supreme Court

It's been 120 years since the US Supreme Court last heard a design patent case, but that's about to change as Apple and Samsung square off before the highest court in the land on Tuesday. 

The dispute revolves around a ruling that ordered Samsung pay its chief rival $399 million (about £325 million, AU$525 million) for infringing on the design of the iPhone. 

The amount represents the entire profits Samsung made from 11 phones found to have followed the iPhone design too closely. Samsung argues the amount is "disproportionate," according to Bloomberg, while Apple says Samsung's "blatant copying" warrants the full award. 

Before the Supreme Court, the tech titans will argue how much of Apple's winnings Samsung should ultimately pay. Samsung likens the current award to turning over profits for car sales when you just copied the cup holder, while Apple says it's more like Samsung aped the whole car. 


Spin cycle

The Supreme Court feels like it's where these two were headed all along. Dozens of lawsuits have passed between them, though none grabbed the world's attention as much as the case involving the iconic iPhone design. 

Apple's patents, as reported by Bloomberg, cover the iPhone's rounded corners, the rim on the phone's front face, and the icon grid users see. The Samsung phones in question are old devices, but Apple isn't letting the Galaxy maker off the hook.

The two sides' arguments will basically come down to burden of proof. Apple says Samsung failed to prove that only parts of its phones copied its patents, while Samsung maintains Apple hasn't proven its profits benefited due to any infringement.

The court justices can do one of three things: keep the award as-is, toss it out completely, or order a brand-new trial to decide damages. The decision will have reverberations for another Apple vs Samsung case, this time for $180 million (about £145 million, $240 million).  

Though it appears both Apple and Samsung are ready to move on from these regular courtroom dates, neither will go down without a fight. Much more than millions of dollars are at stake - reputations are on the line, and both sides want to come out on top.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.