Apple and Samsung reach Supreme Court in patent row

""That would be the understanding the majority of law professors would advocate for," suggested Prof Andrea Matwyshyn from Northwestern University in Boston.

She said while design of, say, a carpet could be considered the be-all-and-end-all of its success, a smartphone is a far more complex device. Design is important, but not the only factor.

The fact that Apple is pushing for full damages is a strategy that suggests extreme confidence in its ability to stay ahead of the curve in technology, Prof Matwyshyn said.

"It is a corporate decision that should be approached with thoughtfulness and caution, because the future of innovation is always uncertain.

"Tomorrow's devices may bring an unanticipated set of legal challenges.

"It's possible they view their own corporate culture so forward looking that they think it's more likely their designs will be used by others, rather than ever being on the defendant side."