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Apple taps original Macintosh icon designer as witness as one law professor sides w/ Samsung in patent feud

Apple’s trial with Samsung continued today with Apple using two expert witnesses to testify on its behalf. The company today brought in industrial designer Alan Ball and the original Macintosh icon designer Susan Kare to try to sway the jury…

As a quick refresher, the case centers around whether or not design patents are “powerful tools to keep competitors at bay or relatively limited in power,” as CNET puts it. A key point is the term “article of manufacture.”

The key point involves an old and abstruse legal term, the “article of manufacture” that incorporates the patented design. A 2016 Supreme Court decision opened the door for basing damages on components, not the entire phone

Apple yesterday relied on Greg Joswiak and other executives to defend its position on the matter. Those testimonies brought some insight into the iPhone design process and more.

Alan Ball kicked things off today by arguing that one of the patents in question, which covers to a “black, rectangular, round-corded front face for an electronic device,” applies to the finished product. In his argument, he cited the “entire smartphones” as the articles of manufacture.

Meanwhile, Susan Kare – who played an instrumental role in the design of the original Macintosh software – defended a patent that describes a grid of colorful icons. “To me, no question – in each case, the [patent] was applied to each of these finished phones – the whole phone,” she said.

Samsung lawyers, of course, argued that phones are made of components – even if the finished product that consumers buy is the complete smartphone. Kare, however, held her ground:

“I get that a display screen is a thing,” an article of manufacture along with other components, Kare said. And she accepted that in the design patent illustrations, some elements of the phone drawn with dotted lines are not part of what Apple claimed in the patent.

Kare continued to by saying “it’s an organic, holistic design” which infringes upon Apple’s patent. Just because you can take things apart and reveal components, she said, doesn’t mean that’s how it was intended. “If you replace [a component], you’re trying to get back to that thing that you bought,” she concluded.

As Samsung’s lawyers interrogated Apple’s witness today, one law school professor sided with Samsung on the issue – saying it’s clear someone can’t patent a design for a screen and subsequently receive profits from the entire device:

Sarah Burstein, a University of Oklahoma law professor who studies the article of manufacture issue, said:

“I agree with Samsung on this one,” she said. “After looking into the historical meaning of the phrase ‘article of manufacture,’ it’s clear Congress didn’t intend for someone to be able to patent a design for a screen and get the profits from the whole phone.”

Closing arguments in the case will be presented on Friday with jury deliberations on Monday.

More on Apple v Samsung in 2018: 

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