Innovation or Protection? That's what will be decided on Tuesday in the US Supreme Court when tech heavyweights Apple Inc (AAPL) and Samsung file their final arguments in the long-running patent dispute.
In 2012, Apple was awarded $548.2 million (originally $1.05 billion) after a court ruled that Samsung had infringed Apple's copyright design of its iPhone. Apple argued, and won, saying Samsung had copied Apple's black faced rounded corner, its grid icons and its surrounding bezel or rim. Samsung argues that a win for Apple would curb innovation and Apple says a win for Samsung would weaken future protections of design and innovation. (See also: Apple Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold Samsung Ruling)
The importance of the ruling has seen many of the California tech giants chime in. Facebook Inc (FB) and Alphabet Inc (GOOG), which makes the Samsung Android operating system, and a number of university professors signed a friend of the court brief in favor of Samsung. "One of the interesting things about this whole odyssey is it's a great demonstration of how slowly the law moves relative to technology," said Stanford Professor Mark A. Lemley, who signed the brief, to tech website Cnet.
Should Samsung get the case overturned it will have up to $399 million of the $548.2 million repaid. If Apple prevails, the payment will stand.
The Supreme Court decision comes at an important time for Samsung, which is reeling after another smartphone scandal. Last Wednesday, a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 caught fire on a Southwest plane in St Louis. The phone was a replacement since the original was one of 2.5 million recalled by Samsung after a spate of battery explosions. (See also: Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Smokes Up Southwest Plane)
The court's decision is due no later than the end of June. In a comment, Samsung said that it "looks forward to the Supreme Court's guidance on a very important matter that has the potential to stifle innovation and consumer choice."