Things are heating up and getting interesting in the patent battle being played out between Samsung and Apple in the court. Samsung has found backing from a group called “Amicus Curiae” or friend of the court, a group of powerful backers in its fight against Apple in court. It has managed to garner support from various top tech giants, including Google, Facebook, eBay, Dell, HP and other big tech companies who have submitted a “friend of the court” brief filed to the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals on July 1st, supporting Samsung’s stance.
The patent battle between Apple and Samsung has been going on since 2011. Apple charged Samsung of multiple patent infringements of important features from the company’s iPhone such as such as tap-to-zoom, single-finger scrolling and two-finger zooming, as well as edge-to-edge glass design, among other things. The Silicon Valley companies supporting Samsung cite that the decision against Samsung in this case would have a negative effect on companies that invest in R&D.
In 2012, a jury ruled that Samsung had intentionally encroached on Apple patents and the Korean company was eventually ordered to turn over the total profits of the Galaxy devices were infringing on Apple’s IPs, worth almost $1 billion. Earlier this year, following a review, the Court of Appeals lowered that amount to $548 million, but the Korean company is still fighting for the decision to be reversed completely.
The briefing says:
If allowed to stand, that decision will lead to absurd results and have a devastating impact on companies, including [the briefing draftees], who spend billions of dollars annually on research and development for complex technologies and their components.
Inside Sources quoted this appropriate part of the document to explain what the companies mean:
Under the panel’s reasoning, the manufacturer of a smart television containing a component that infringed any single design patent could be required to pay in damages its total profit on the entire television, no matter how insignificant the design of the infringing feature was to the manufacturer’s profit or to consumer demand.
Software products and online platforms face similar dangers. A design patent may cover the appearance of a single feature of a graphical user interface, such as the shape of an icon. That feature—a result of a few lines out of millions of code—may appear only during a particular use of the product, on one screen display among hundreds. But the panel’s decision could allow the owner of the design patent to receive all profits generated by the product or platform, even if the infringing element was largely insignificant to the user and it was the thousands of other features, implemented across the remainder of the software, that drove the demand generating those profits.
As for Apple, it has responded by reportedly asking for the dismissal of Google’s involvement in the briefing, since it is the company behind Android, the platform that is loaded on most of the Samsung devices.