In an hour-long oral argument Tuesday that conjured up examples ranging from wallpaper to Volkswagen Beetles, a majority of justices seemed to buy Samsung's argument that lower courts improperly allowed more expansive — and expensive — interpretations of patent law. The court typically issues decisions three to four months after hearing arguments.
"Nobody buys a car, even a Beetle, just because they like the way it looks," Justice Samuel Alito said.
Chief Justice John Roberts said Apple's iconic iPhone design applies to the exterior face of the phone — not "all the chips and wires."
But several justices said it would be difficult if not impossible for juries to determine the size of a patent infringement award when one part of a product's design is infringed upon. And several said a distinctive design can represent a large percentage of the profit, an indication that Samsung may not be off the hook if the case is returned to a lower court for resolution.
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