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Apple & Samsung to bring legal battle to US Supreme Court on Tuesday

In its first case over design patents in some 120 years, the U.S. Supreme Court will tackle the outcome of the biggest Apple v. Samsung lawsuit on Tuesday, as Samsung looks to reduce the scope of damages owed.

Samsung will argue that it shouldn't have had to pay $399 million in damages ordered by lower courts, Bloomberg noted on Monday. The company has used the analogy of a cupholder in a car, suggesting that it wouldn't be fair to award the entire profits from a vehicle for something that makes just a partial contribution.

While Apple has acknowledged that in some cases a patent holder should only be able to collect profits linked to a specific component, it has also insisted that the patents in its case against Samsung were more equivalent to the design of an entire car, and that Samsung earlier failed to demonstrate that the patents applied to just parts of 11 infringing phones — all of which are no longer on sale.

The Supreme Court will have three basic options: upholding the damages, invalidating them, or ordering a retrial to decide the exact amount.

Samsung has already paid Apple the $399 million, along with a further $150 million for violating a "pinch-to-zoom" patent. Combined, though, both sums are already far lower than the more than $1 billion a jury initially leveled against Samsung. That figure was reduced severely in later legal proceedings.

The outcome of the Supreme Court fight could impact Apple's attempt to collect another $180 million, and possibly a recent U.S. federal appeals court ruling, which reinstated $119.6 million in damages for Samsung's infringement of a "slide-to-unlock" patent.