What patents are Apple and Samsung arguing over?

11 Oct 2016

US Supreme Court. Image: Joe Ravi/Shutterstock

Today (11 October), Apple and Samsung have their long-running patent dispute in the US heard by the country’s highest court, but what are they arguing about?

The five-year patent dispute between Samsung and Apple inches towards its zenith this week as the US supreme court hears arguments from both sides.

Apple claims Samsung infringed on some of its patents and, as with similar disputes between the pair elsewhere in the world, it has taken some time to get to this stage.

Apple Samsung patent

Claims and counterclaims have produced a confusing setting for the decade’s biggest patent war, though that doesn’t make it any less important.

Whatever finding the supreme court makes, which we should know in around three months’ time, it will have wide-reaching implications for innovation in the years to come.

What is interesting is the list of supporters each company enjoys. In July last year, Facebook, Google, Dell, HP and eBay rowed in behind Samsung. For Apple? Famous fashion names Calvin Klein, Paul Smith and Alexander Wang were included in its series of supporters.

Fashion is one of the industries most reliant on innovation on the back of standardised design, so the support shown to Apple could hint at just how big this patent finding could prove. Elsewhere music, for example, is constantly in the spotlight when copyright is under discussion.

So what are the duo arguing over?

Apple patent

Apple is arguing that it owns the patent to the rounded, rectangular shape on the iPhone. Interestingly, the colour black is the only example in the patent, and such, its only claim.

Apple patent

This patent relates to what is now known as the bezel, the front of the phone where the interactive glass screen rests. The edge of the glass and the home button are part of this patent.

Apple patent

  • Graphical user interface for a display screen or portion thereof – US D604305 S1 (above)

The oddest of all, Apple patented a grid design and thus thinks Samsung was wrong to copy it. That’s a similar grid pattern to Windows desktops. If the grid is Apple’s, and Samsung has to pay out, many companies should probably be worried.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic