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Supreme Court sides with Samsung over Apple patent penalty

The court ruled that iPhone design patent violations could only apply to parts of the phone.
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The Supreme Court ruled that Samsung's violation of design patents made by Apple can only involve components, not entire products. This could mean a severely reduced penalty that the Korean company will have to pay... and a rare bit of good news for the troubled company.

Samsung was facing a penalty of $548 million for imitating elements of the iPhone's design — this itself was reduced from an initial charge of nearly $1 billion. However, during the company's most recent appeal, the justices said that the patent infringement could affect just a component of the phones, like its design or appearance, rather than the sum total of the device. The Justices voted unanimously 8-0 in Samsung's favor. Chief Justice John Roberts noted Samsung did not infringe on "all the chips and wires" during the case in October.

The case (still) isn't over. Now it will return to a lower court to determine a recalculated portion of profits that Samsung will have to pay to Apple -- something that part of the Supreme Court noted wouldn't be easy. "The term 'article of manufacture' is broad enough to embrace both a product sold to a consumer and a component of that product whether sold separately or not," Justice Sotomayor wrote.

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