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Apple v. Samsung: Design Patent Case of the Century

On October 11, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Apple v. Samsung, the first case before the court in more than 125 years involving a claim for design patent infringement. In 2014, a California jury found, among other things, that Samsung infringed three design patents owned by Apple.  After numerous appeals and cross-appeals below, the sole issue before the court is whether Apple should have been awarded Samsung's total profit from the sales of the products found to infringe the Apple patents. 

Since 1887, the patent law has included a remedy only available for design patent infringement, which disgorges an infringer of the profit made from the sale of infringing products.  The "total profit" rule, as it is sometimes referred to, can be a significant deterrent against would be copycats encouraging them to avoid emulating designs, which they know or suspect are protected by design patent.

© 2019 Sterne Kessler


About this Author

Tracy-Gene Durkin, Mechanical Patent Trademark Attorney, Sterne Kessler law firm

Ms. Durkin leads the Mechanical Patent and Trademark Group.  With over twenty years of experience obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights, she melds her expertise with utility and design patents, trademarks, and copyrights to create a unique IP protection strategy to meet her clients' individual needs.  Ms. Durkin’s experience includes helping clear new products and trademarks for use in the marketplace, selecting appropriate IP protection, and enforcing such protection through mediation, litigation and licensing.  She is sought out for her knowledge of...