Why the Supreme Court asked if the iPhone design is like a Volkswagen Beetle

Jeff John Roberts, writing for Fortune:

In trying to make sense of the design patents’ value, the judges repeatedly invoked the body shape of Volkswagen’s iconic Beetle model, noting that consumers will pay extra for a cool-looking car. But they drew back at saying a company, in cases of complex products, should be able to use a patent for exterior appearance to collect for the whole thing.


Justice Stephen Breyer contrasted simple products like wallpaper to cars and smartphones, which are often covered by hundreds or thousands of patents and design decisions.

“For wallpaper, you get the whole thing. A Rolls Royce with the thing on the hood? No, no, no you don’t get profits on the whole car,” said Breyer.

This likens Samsung copying the iPhone look and feel to building a car that looks like the VW Beetle. Interesting point.