Google And Facebook Offered Their Support For Samsung In Its Dispute With Apple
Pressure is growing on the US Supreme Court to grant Samsung’s writ seeking to restrict “unjustified windfalls” in design patent cases, after Google and Facebook threw their weight behind the Korean company in its dispute with Apple.
Both parties filed an amicus brief along with eBay, Dell and HP, arguing that if an earlier decision to award Apple total profits from the sale of Samsung’s smartphone products that infringed Apple’s design patents is left to stand, it would “lead to absurd results and have a devastating impact on companies”.
“Awarding a design patentee the total profit from an infringer’s product when the design covers only a relatively minor portion of the product is out of proportion with the significance of the design and out of touch with economic realities,” the brief continued.
Under section 289 of the US code, if a court finds that a party has infringed a design patent it can award the “total profit” from the sales of the product to the patent owner. Samsung said this law awards “unjustified windfalls” for parties “well beyond any inventive contribution”.
The brief was filed on January 15.
In May, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a $399 million damages award in favour of Apple for the infringement of three of its design patents by Samsung.
Two of the three patents cover the outer shape of a smartphone with curved corners and straight sides, and the third covers the “graphical user interface” of the iPhone.
The intervention of Google and Facebook on Samsung’s side is not surprising. In July, the parties urged the federal circuit to hear Samsung’s appeal en banc, but that request was rejected.
Other parties also offered their support for Samsung. A number of US academics, technology industry association Computer & Communications Industry Association, and rights groups Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation urged the US Supreme Court to grant the writ.
In total, six briefs have been filed. All are in favour of the Korean company.
Samsung said: “To protect the future of innovation, design patent laws must be interpreted in a way that makes sense for modern products. Design patents must not be given too broad a scope and damages must not be windfalls vastly out of proportion to the contribution of the patent design.
“If the legal precedent in this case stands, the consequences could be dire for the advancement of industry, innovation and science,” the company concluded.