A US appeals court yesterday reversed part of the $930m (€820) verdict that Apple won in 2012 against Samsung Electronics, saying the iPhone maker's trademark-related appearance could not be protected.
In a highly anticipated ruling stemming from the global smartphone wars, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC, upheld the patent infringement violations found by a federal jury in a court in San Jose, California, as well as the damages awarded for those violations.
Out of the $930m judgment against Samsung, the appeals court ordered the court in San Jose to reconsider the $382m portion awarded for trade dress dilution.
Trade dress is a legal term for a trademark on the way a product is packaged or presented. As part of its case, Apple had accused Samsung of diluting its brand and connection with customers by copying the look of its phones.
The appeals court said the features Apple sought to trademark were not eligible for this kind of legal protection because they are essential to the functioning of the phone. To grant such protection would give Apple a monopoly on these features forever, the court said. The 2012 trial jury found Samsung violated several Apple patents, including those related to iPhone's design and appearance.
Apple was awarded $930m in damages, but failed in 2013 to convince US District Judge Lucy Koh to ban the sale of the infringing Samsung phones.