The U.S. Supreme Court ruled with a whopping 8-0 majority on Tuesday in favour of Samsung in its big-money long running smartphone feud with Apple.

The court rejected an earlier ruling that Samsung must pay $399 million to Apple for copying some parts from earlier model iPhone designs.


In its ruling, the Supreme Court said that a violator of a patent does not always have to fork over its entire profits from the sale of products that use stolen designs; if that is the designs used only certain components and not the whole thing. If it helps, the patent law in question comes from the year 1887.

However, the dispute is not over. The case has now been sent back to a lower court that will decide the final (don’t hold your breath) compensation amount that Samsung should pay.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision follows an expensive and often bitter legal battle between the two of the world’s most successful tech manufacturers. It began back in 2011, when Apple sued Samsung, claiming that its main smartphone competitor stole its technology and the iPhone’s trademarked appearance.

The original 2012 verdict fell in favour of Apple, and Samsung was initially hit with an almost billion dollar fine. Ensuing appeals and court appearances had the $930,000,000,000 reduced by $382 million.

The US Supreme Court judges were asked by Samsung to query whether it was right to award damages for the entire profits of a smartphone if only a handful of patents, out of the thousands that make up such a complex product, were infringed.

The legal dispute centred on whether the term “article of manufacture”, on which design patent damages are calculated in U.S. patent law, should be interpreted as a finished product in its entirety, or merely a component in a complex product.

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