Design Patents

Currently, the US Supreme Court is hearing a case between Samsung and Apple pertaining to design patents; design patents, in American law, protect the way a product looks. Samsung infringed Apple’s design patent and is looking to reduce the amount of damages they must pay. Apple is saying Samsung’s infringement is significant, like infringing on a car design, whereas Samsung believes their infringement is minimal. Complicating the case, there is limited case law on design patents, and the case law that exists is more than 100 years old and, of course, pertains to non-electronics. This case highlights more general controversies pertaining to design patents; some critics argue designs should not be patentable subject because they stifle innovation and designs are better addressed by copyright law.

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