The world of patents explained: how they affect what you buy

We've included only a brief portion of claim 19. While claims comprise a single sentence, it's not uncommon to find claims that are spread over half a page, or more. To make reading them easier, such lengthy claims are often written in outline form.

Design patents have only a single claim. As the design is described by way of drawings in the patent application, the claim for a design patent usually reads "we claim the design as shown," or some variation thereof. The claim for Apple's '889 design patent, which describes an electronic device, states: "We claim the ornamental design for an electronic device, substantially as shown and described."

The patents are referred to by the last three digits, so patent '889 is, in fact, the USD504889 patent.

The root of Apple Vs Samsung


Steve Jobs once said he was going thermonuclear against Android for patent infringement. Seems he wasn't joking around

Since 2011, Apple has filed dozens of suits against Samsung and other device manufacturers, such as HTC, alleging infringements of its patents and trademarks, among other things. Samsung, in turn, countersued Apple, and both have since won decisions in their favour in different countries.

In its first complaint in the US, Apple alleged that Samsung had infringed on a number of its utility and design patents and various trademarks:

"Samsung's Galaxy family of mobile products, introduced in 2010, is exemplary. The copying is so pervasive, that the Samsung Galaxy products appear to be actual Apple products - with the same rectangular shape with rounded corners, silver edging, a flat surface face with substantial top and bottom black borders, gently curving edges on the back, and a display of colourful square icons with rounded corners. When a Samsung Galaxy phone is used in public, there can be little doubt that it would be viewed as an Apple product based upon the design alone."

The infringement in the above quoted paragraph refers to various 'trade dress' elements that Apple had registered in regards to the iPhone: "U.S. Registration No. 3,470,983 is for the overall design of the product, including the rectangular shape, the rounded corners, the silver edges, the black face, and the display of sixteen colourful icons.

"U.S. Registration No. 3,457,218 is for the configuration of a rectangular handheld mobile digital electronic device with rounded corners.

"U.S. Registration No. 3,475,327 is for a rectangular handheld mobile digital electronic device with a gray rectangular portion in the center, a black band above and below the gray rectangle and on the curved corners, and a silver outer border and side. "

The original complaint, despite alleging that Samsung had infringed seven utility and three design patents, didn't include the complete list of infringed patents. Patent '889, for instance, which describes the design of the iPad, was included in the final verdict form. The jury returned with a verdict in favour of Apple, awarding it more than $2 billion in damages, declaring Samsung had wilfully infringed on a number of Apple's patents, and registered trade dress.

The fact that the jury delivered the verdict after just three days of deliberation seems monumental when you consider the verdict form spanned 20 pages and covered many different areas of law - patent, trademark, trade dress, etc. The 20 pages of the verdict form included several tables for each of the infringing devices, with more than 500 YES/NO questions in all.

What's more, District Judge Lucy Koh provided the jury with more than 100 pages of instructions, detailing what was expected of the jurors, what constituted evidence, what was proof, the patents in question and many other things - which highlights the magnitude of care and responsibility that was expected from the jury.

The jury was required to decide uniformly on all the questions, and many lawyers and other legal experts have since declared the near impossibility of reaching a uniform decision on the 500 questions in a matter of a few days, while legitimately discussing the entirety of the case - the evidence, the arguments and defences.