By Marc Shneider
Google, Facebook, HP and eBay all have Samsung’s back in the smartphone maker’s never-ending battle with Apple over hefty patent damages. The coalition, which also includes Dell and other Silicon Valley companies, filed an amicus brief with the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals early this month arguing the panel should reconsider its ruling that Samsung must forfeit the profits from infringing Galaxy phones.
The battle between the tech giants culminated in 2012 when a court ordered Samsung to pay Apple $930 million for infringing on a small number of iPhone-related design and utility patents. That amount was later reduced to $382 million, but the court upheld an order for Samsung to pay the “total profit” of the value of sold phones, and not just the value of the patents. In a separate case, filed in March 2014, Apple sued Samsung again for about $2 billion in damages, arguing that it had ”systematically copied Apple’s innovative technology and products, features, and designs.”
In the “friend of the court” brief, Samsung’s backers argue that there are too many parts and elements in smartphones generally to justify awarding the profits from an entire device when only a small number of design patents were said to be infringed upon.
“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,” the brief explained.
The coalition said the panel’s decision would have have “significant detrimental consequences for the continued development of useful modern technologies” if allowed to stand. The brief argued that the results would have a “devastating impact” on companies, like themselves, who “spend billions of dollars annually on research and development for complex technologies.”
According to the Inside Sources blog, Apple has since responded to the tech coalition by arguing that it should be dismissed because of one company’s involvement. “Google has a strong interest in this particular case, is not an impartial ‘friend of the court,’ “ Apple told the court, “and should not be permitted to expand Samsung’s word limit under the guise of an amicus brief.”
The latest tiff between Apple and Samsung follows their joint decision in August 2014 to drop all patent lawsuits outside of the United States.
Representatives from Apple and Samsung did not immediately return requests for comment.