A group of major technology companies is in Samsung Electronics' corner as it appeals a court ruling that would require it to pay almost $1 billion in damages to Apple arising from a patent infringement suit that dates back to 2011. The companies include Google, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, eBay and Facebook.
On July 1, Google and the other companies filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief arguing that upholding the ruling that Samsung pay Apple $1 billion in damages would have "significant detrimental consequences for the continued development of useful modern technologies." That brief was uncovered this week by the InsideSources news Web site.
"If allowed to stand, that decision will lead to absurd results and have a devastating impact on companies . . . who spend billions of dollars annually on research and development for complex technologies and their components," the companies said in their brief to the court. The group of companies backed up Samsung’s argument that an Apple victory in 2012 covered only minor technologies, not entire products.
Here's the backstory: In 2011, Apple filed suit alleging that Samsung’s phones infringed on the design and utility patents, as well as on the overall look and packaging of several iPhone products. The case has resulted in a yo-yo-like progression of damages awarded, reduced and then increased again. Initial damages of $930 million were awarded in 2012 when Apple won at a jury trial.
Samsung appealed the judgment and subsequently, a panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit slashed $382 million in damages related to trade dress dilution, leaving $548 million in damages related to the design and utility patent infringements.
Rise in Market Share
In March 2013, Judge Lucy Koh ruled the $548 million figure excessive and reduced it, but later that year, another jury added an extra $290.5 million. Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals reduced the figure again, but last month, Samsung asked for a further reduction of $399 million -- which it said represented its entire profit from products found to infringe on three Apple design patents for part of the iPhone’s outer shell and one graphical user interface screen.
Samsung’s lawyers maintained that the damages should be limited to profits from the actual infringing features. Apple on Monday filed a 24-page document asking the court to deny Samsung’s request.
In its court filing Monday, Apple defended its claim to all the profit from the infringing devices, saying that Samsung’s smartphone market share had quadrupled over a two-year period after the infringement while Apple’s market share fell during the same two-year period.
Google, HP, et al., said that if the initial ruling is upheld, such a scenario could allow the owner of the design patent to claim all the profits from an infringing product -- whether or not buyers know or care about the level of infringement, however minor.
Image credit: iStock/Artist's concept.
Posted: 2015-07-22 @ 11:52am PT
Apple is a patent troll and the Courts should not allow it to abuse the legal system.
Their market share argument is untenable because there are much more important factors playing into the market share than the patented designs. Frankly (and in hindsight, so not to be considered in the lawsuit), Apple's designs are not always the best. They were right about the ideal tablet form factors (10" 4:3 and 8" 4:3) but they were wrong about the ideal phone form factor as demonstrated by the popularity of phablets and Apple's own increased screen size in the latest iPhone iteration.
If Samsung or other industry players behaved like Apple, they would sue for the iPhone 6 copying the design of their phablets. Luckily, there is only one kindergarden child in the industry. Time to give it a healthy spanking and move on.
Stop buying Apple products. The competition is better.