California residents may not consider how the design of a product is connected to the patent. An ongoing lawsuit between technology companies demonstrates why it is important to understand which aspects a product are covered by a patent.
Samsung and Apple are involved in a lawsuit concerning the design of cellphones. The case has been in progress since 2011. Although the case reached the Supreme Court in 2016, the issue has not yet been resolved, and the case is in progress at a lower California court. Representatives of Apple argue that three Samsung cellphones infringed on the company's patent and they seek damages from Samsung. The alleged patent infringement covers not technological but design aspects that Apple says are integral to the appearance of the iPhone. These design aspects are the layout of icons on the user interface and the round corners on the front of the iPhone. Apple representatives say that any damages awarded to the company should be set by the value of the entire cellphone.
Samsung representatives argue that Apple's patents are too narrow and do not cover the entire phone. The company says that any damages owed to Apple should be based on the value of the individual components that were infringed on. The company has already paid $548 million in damages. The total amount Samsung owes to Apple is still under debate.
When companies hold the patent to their products, it is important for them to understand how broad the patent is and what they can do to protect it. Some people may find it helpful to speak to an attorney to ensure they understand every aspect of a patent.
Source: CNET, "Apple and Samsung fight over what made the iPhone 'revolutionary,'" Stephen Shankland, May 15, 2018