Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Ninth Circuit

No. 15-628. Argued October 5, 2016--Decided December 6, 2016

Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Rule 10b–5 prohibit undisclosed trading on inside corporate information by persons bound by a duty of trust and confidence not to exploit that information for their personal advantage. These persons are also forbidden from tipping inside information to others for trading. A tippee who receives such information with the knowledge that its disclosure breached the tipper’s duty acquires that duty and may be liable for securities fraud for any undisclosed trading on the information. In Dirks v. SEC, 463 U. S. 646, this Court explained that tippee liability hinges on whether the tipper’s disclosure breaches a fiduciary duty, which occurs when the tipper discloses the information for a personal benefit. The Court also held that a personal benefit may be inferred where the tipper receives something of value in exchange for the tip or “makes a gift of confidential information to a trading relative or friend.” Id., at 664.

Petitioner Salman was indicted for federal securities-fraud crimes for trading on inside information he received from a friend and relative-by-marriage, Michael Kara, who, in turn, received the information from his brother, Maher Kara, a former investment banker at Citigroup. Maher testified at Salman’s trial that he shared inside information with his brother Michael to benefit him and expected him to trade on it, and Michael testified to sharing that information with Salman, who knew that it was from Maher. Salman was convicted.

While Salman’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit was pending, the Second Circuit decided that Dirks does not permit a factfinder to infer a personal benefit to the tipper from a gift of confidential information to a trading relative or friend, unless there is “proof of a meaningfully close personal relationship” between tipper and tippee “that generates an exchange that is objective, consequential, and represents at least a potential gain of a pecuniary or similarly valuable nature,” United States v. Newman, 773 F. 3d 438, 452, cert. denied, 577 U. S. ___. The Ninth Circuit declined to follow Newman so far, holding that Dirks allowed Salman’s jury to infer that the tipper breached a duty because he made “ ‘a gift of confidential information to a trading relative.’ ” 792 F. 3d 1087, 1092 (quoting Dirks, 463 U. S., at 664).

Held: The Ninth Circuit properly applied Dirks to affirm Salman’s conviction. Under Dirks, the jury could infer that the tipper here personally benefited from making a gift of confidential information to a trading relative. Pp. 6–12.

(a) Salman contends that a gift of confidential information to a friend or family member alone is insufficient to establish the personal benefit required for tippee liability, claiming that a tipper does not personally benefit unless the tipper’s goal in disclosing information is to obtain money, property, or something of tangible value. The Government counters that a gift of confidential information to anyone, not just a “trading relative or friend,” is enough to prove securities fraud because a tipper personally benefits through any disclosure of confidential trading information for a personal (non-corporate) purpose. The Government argues that any concerns raised by permitting such an inference are significantly alleviated by other statutory elements prosecutors must satisfy. Pp. 6–8.

(b) This Court adheres to the holding in Dirks, which easily resolves the case at hand: “when an insider makes a gift of confidential information to a trading relative or friend . . . [t]he tip and trade resemble trading by the insider himself followed by a gift of the profits to the recipient,” 463 U. S., at 664. In these situations, the tipper personally benefits because giving a gift of trading information to a trading relative is the same thing as trading by the tipper followed by a gift of the proceeds. Here, by disclosing confidential information as a gift to his brother with the expectation that he would trade on it, Maher breached his duty of trust and confidence to Citigroup and its clients—a duty acquired and breached by Salman when he traded on the information with full knowledge that it had been improperly disclosed. To the extent that the Second Circuit in Newman held that the tipper must also receive something of a “pecuniary or similarly valuable nature” in exchange for a gift to a trading relative, that rule is inconsistent with Dirks. Pp. 8–10.

(c) Salman’s arguments to the contrary are rejected. Salman has cited nothing in this Court’s precedents that undermines the gift-giving principle this Court announced in Dirks. Nor has he demonstrated that either 10(b) itself or Dirks’s gift-giving standard “leav[e] grave uncertainty about how to estimate the risk posed by a crime” or are plagued by “hopeless indeterminacy.” Johnson v. United States, 576 U. S. ___, ___, ___. Salman also has shown “no grievous ambiguity or uncertainty that would trigger” the rule of lenity. Barber v. Thomas, 560 U. S. 474 (internal quotation marks omitted). To the contrary, his conduct is in the heartland of Dirks’s rule concerning gifts of confidential information to trading relatives. Pp. 10–12.

792 F. 3d 1087, affirmed.

Alito, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.


Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Federal Circuit

No. 15-777. Argued October 11, 2016--Decided December 6, 2016

Section 289 of the Patent Act makes it unlawful to manufacture or sell an “article of manufacture” to which a patented design or a colorable imitation thereof has been applied and makes an infringer liable to the patent holder “to the extent of his total profit.” 35 U. S. C. 289. As relevant here, a jury found that various smartphones manufactured by petitioners (collectively, Samsung) infringed design patents owned by respondent Apple Inc. that covered a rectangular front face with rounded edges and a grid of colorful icons on a black screen. Apple was awarded $399 million in damages—Samsung’s entire profit from the sale of its infringing smartphones. The Federal Circuit affirmed the damages award, rejecting Samsung’s argument that damages should be limited because the relevant articles of manufacture were the front face or screen rather than the entire smartphone. The court reasoned that such a limit was not required because the components of Samsung’s smartphones were not sold separately to ordinary consumers and thus were not distinct articles of manufacture.

Held: In the case of a multicomponent product, the relevant “article of manufacture” for arriving at a 289 damages award need not be the end product sold to the consumer but may be only a component of that product. Pp. 4–9.

(a) The statutory text resolves the issue here. An “article of manufacture,” which is simply a thing made by hand or machine, encompasses both a product sold to a consumer and a component of that product. This reading is consistent with 171(a) of the Patent Act, which makes certain “design[s] for an article of manufacture” eligible for design patent protection, and which has been understood by the Patent Office and the courts to permit a design patent that extends to only a component of a multicomponent product, see, e.g., Ex parte Adams, 84 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 311; Application of Zahn, 617 F. 2d 261, 268 (CCPA). This reading is also consistent with the Court’s reading of the term “manufacture” in 101, which makes “any new and useful . . . manufacture” eligible for utility patent protection. See Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U. S. 303. Pp. 4–7.

(b) Because the term “article of manufacture” is broad enough to embrace both a product sold to a consumer and a component of that product, whether sold separately or not, the Federal Circuit’s narrower reading cannot be squared with 289’s text. Absent adequate briefing by the parties, this Court declines to resolve whether the relevant article of manufacture for each design patent at issue here is the smartphone or a particular smartphone component. Doing so is not necessary to resolve the question presented, and the Federal Circuit may address any remaining issues on remand. Pp. 7–8.

786 F. 3d 983, reversed and remanded.

Sotomayor, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.