Academic journal article Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review

How Media Got the Biggest Bite of (the) Apple: A Look at the Media Misperception in the Apple-Samsung Case

Academic journal article Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review

How Media Got the Biggest Bite of (the) Apple: A Look at the Media Misperception in the Apple-Samsung Case

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION II. BACKGROUND OF THE CASE III. ANALYSES OF THE PATENTS AT ISSUE      A. Design Patents      B. Utility Patents         1. Apple's Patents at Issue in the Apple-Samsung Trial         2. Preliminary Invalidity of the Patents Based on Prior Art            References IV. MEDIA'S TAKE ON PATENTS     A. Design Patents         1. Confused Analysis         2. Correct Analysis     B. Utility Patents         1. Confused Analysis         2. Correct Analysis     C. What Drives this Popular Perception? V. WHY IS THIS RELEVANT?     A. Media's Effect on Criminal Law     B. Media's Effect on Patent Law         1. Three Ways that Media Misperception Can Adversely            Affect Patent Law         2. What Can Be Done to Correct these Misperceptions? VI. CONCLUSION 

I. INTRODUCTION

"Apple v. Samsung: [t]he [p]atent [t]rial of the [c]entury." (1) If the preceding sentence generated thoughts about your phone, it is because there is a 50% chance that the phone you own is made by one of these parties. Together, Apple and Samsung sell over half of the world's smartphones. Thus, the Apple v. Samsung ("Apple-Samsung") trial was followed, at least on a superficial level, by most Americans. For most of us, the Apple-Samsung trial paints a picture of a courtroom where attorneys on both sides are arguing over rectangles, and gestures such as pinch-to-zoom. This is because such a narrative was created by the numerous technical and mainstream media outlets that extensively covered the trial. While all of these outlets covered the trial proceedings, only a handful accurately communicated the details of the patents at issue.

This Comment focuses on the implications that media misperception in the Apple-Samsung case can have on patent law. Section II of this Comment provides a background of the issues in the Apple-Samsung litigation. Section III analyzes the Apple patents that are at issue in the Apple-Samsung litigation, and discusses the prior art references considered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"). Section IV discusses media's interpretation of the patents, and where these misperceptions come from. Finally, Section V describes how media's misperception has affected various areas of law, and the implications it can have on patent law.

II. BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

On April 15, 2011, Apple sued Samsung in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. (2) Apple claimed that Samsung infringed its design patents and utility patents in twenty of Samsung's devices. (3) In return, Samsung filed a countersuit claiming that Apple infringed ten of its patents. (4) After over a year of proceedings involving several motions, depositions, and injunctions, (5) the case finally reached a jury trial stage in late July 2012. (6) After three weeks of trial proceedings, the jury found that Samsung had infringed on six of the seven patents (7) and granted a $1.05 billion verdict in favor of Apple. (8) However, the presiding judge recently reduced the awarded damages down to $4.5 million, finding that the jury award was based on "Samsung's profits, which is an impermissible type of compensation for utility patent infringement." (9)

Apart from the jury trial in the United States, Apple and Samsung commenced patent litigation elsewhere in the world. (10) While Apple won the battle in the United States, Samsung won the battle in Japan, (11) Australia, (12) the United Kingdom ("UK"), (13) and the Netherlands (14) where the respective courts found that Samsung did not infringe on Apple's patents. On the other hand, a South Korean court found that both Apple and Samsung infringed on each other's patents and banned the infringing products from shops in the country. (15)

III. ANALYSES OF THE PATENTS AT ISSUE

Patents are defined by the USPTO as "[a] grant of property right that [it] issue[s] to the inventor." (16) Of the three types of patents - utility patents, design patents, and plant patents - that are issued by the USPTO, only design patents and utility patents were the subject of litigation in the Apple-Samsung case. …

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