Apple v. Samsung: Design Patents Take Center Stage

Vol. 5 No. 3


Christopher V. Carani is a shareholder at the IP law firm of McAndrews, Held & Malloy, Ltd., in Chicago, Illinois, where his practice focuses on design IP law, regarding the protection and enforcement of product designs using design patents, trade dress, and 3D copyrights. He can be reached at The views expressed herein are his own and not necessarily those of his clients or his firm.

After operating in the intellectual property backwaters for years, design patents took center stage in the epic battle in Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co.1 What ensued was a dispute, centered on design rights, between two consumer tech titans that captured the nation’s attention—indeed the world’s. The case’s grip was felt not only in legal circles, but also in the mainstream press and media. After all, the case regarded symbols of our time—devices such as smartphones and tablets that impact our everyday lives. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal touted the case as “The Patent Trial of the Century.”2 Even the evening talk show circuit chimed in with both Conan O’Brien and The Colbert Report putting on skits that riffed on the case. Never has a patent infringement case, let alone one centered on design patents, received so much attention.

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