Patents - October 12, 2016

Patent cases in the Supreme Court’s October 2016 term

The Supreme Court will decide two patent cases on the merits in the October 2016 term of the Court. These cases are:
1. Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple, Inc., ___ U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 1453, 194 L. Ed. 2d 549 (March 21, 2016) (granting petition for certiorari “limited to Question 2 presented by the petition”); and
2. SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 1824, 194 L. Ed. 2d 829 (May 2, 2016) (granting petition for certiorari).
The Court heard oral argument in the Samsung case on October 11, 2016. The official transcript of the argument is available here. The question presented for review is “[w]here a patented design is applied only to a component of a product, should an award of infringer’s profits be limited to profits attributable to that component?” This is the case in which Samsung’s entire profits from selling its accused smartphones were awarded to Apple for infringing Apple’s design patents for the front face of the iPhone and its graphical user interface. We published a news item, about the case when the Supreme Court decided to grant review earlier in 2016. We published an earlier news item, about the billion-dollar jury verdict in favor of Apple.

The SCA Hygiene case is set for oral argument on November 1, 2016. The question presented for review is “[w]hether and to what extent the defense of laches may bar a claim for patent infringement brought within the Patent Act’s six-year statutory limitations period, 35 U.S.C. § 286.” We published a news item, about the Supreme Court’s decision earlier in 2016 to take this case up for review. We also published a news item, about the decision en banc of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in this case. The Federal Circuit decided that the affirmative defense of laches (due to unreasonable delay by the plaintiff in bringing suit) was available in patent infringement lawsuits despite the existence of a six-year statute of limitations for collecting damages due to patent infringement.