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Apple Inc. v Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
786 F.3d 983 (Fed. Cir. 2015)



Apple, Inc. (Apple) (plaintiff) manufactured smartphones. Apple trademarked the trade dress or presentation of the icons on its smartphones. Apple’s trademark application described the appearance of 16 specific icons, including their shape, arrangement, spacing, and background. Apple did not trademark other elements of its smartphone’s trade dress, like rounded edges, a flat surface covering the display screen, and black borders that are narrow on the sides of the screen but more substantial at the top and bottom. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Samsung) (defendant) manufactured smartphones with a design, utility, and trade dress that was similar to Apple’s smartphones. Apple sued Samsung for: (1) patent and trademark infringement and (2) dilution of Apple’s trade dresses, both the registered and the unregistered elements. A jury found Samsung liable for infringement and dilution and awarded over $1 billion in damages to Apple. After the verdict, Samsung moved for judgment as a matter of law. Among other things, Samsung argued that Apple’s trade dresses could not be protected under trademark law because they were functional. The district court upheld the jury’s findings. Samsung appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Prost, C. J.)

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