Designers Back Apple in Patent Fight with Samsung

More than 100 designers signed on to a new court brief supporting Apple in its design patent fight against Samsung. Nicolas Ghesquière, Alexander Wang, Calvin Klein, Dries Van Noten, Paul Smith, Alber Elbaz and Sacai’s Chitose Abe, the industrial design director at Parsons School of Design, the design director for Bentley Motors, and Tony Chambers, the editor-in-chief of Wallpaper magazine are among those taking sides. 

Samsung has appealed to the Supreme Court part of the $548 million it paid Apple last December related to a jury verdict from 2012. Samsung says the $399 million of that amount, awarded for copying the designs of the iPhone's rounded-corner front face, bezel and grid of icons, is excessive, adding that they contributed only marginally to a complex product. Apple sued in 2011, claiming the South Korean electronics company stole its technology and the look of the iPhone.

Last May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington upheld the 2012 patent infringement verdict but overturned Samsung's liability for trademark infringement. Samsung asked the Supreme Court to review the case, and in March, the justices agreed to examine whether the total profits from a product that infringes a design patent should be awarded if the patent applies only to a component of the product.

The designers on Thursday said that in the minds of consumers, the "look of the product comes to represent the underlying features, functions, and total user experience." Stealing a design can lead to a lost sale, and Apple deserves to be compensated for that with the infringer's entire profits, they said.