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Samsung faces Apple in court today

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Jeremy Hobson: Lawyers from the two biggest smartphone producers in the world will be in federal court in San Jose, Calif. today. Samsung — that’s number one — is being sued by Apple, which is the second biggest smartphone producer, believe it or not. Apple is asking for more than $2 billion in damages, as well as an injunction to stop the sale of Samsung’s smartphones and tablets.

Marketplace’s Queena Kim reports.

Queena Kim: Apple claims that Samsung products copy the iPad and iPhone’s design. And Apple has a patent on those designs, which includes:

Colleen Chien: …the button placed on the bottom, a large screen, rounded corners and a rectangular shape.

Colleen Chien is a law professor at Santa Clara University. And Samsung’s comeback? No, Apple — you’re the copy cat!

Chien: Samsung’s rejoinder is: you can only get a patent over something that’s new and other people had this similar idea before you.

The lawsuit signals that “design patents” are emerging as the newest weapon in patent wars and Apple has a big arsenal.

Robin Feldman is a law professor at U.C. Hastings. She says Apple even has a patent for “clean lines.”

Robin Feldman: It’s worth asking whether we should be giving so much power for the kinds of things that we give design patents for.

Because in the hands of a power company like Apple, Feldman says, “design patents” could squash competitors and innovation.

In San Francisco, I’m Queena Kim for Marketplace.

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