Google, HTC, Red Hat, and Rackspace all filed friends of the court briefs on behalf of Samsung on Monday urging the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals to rule against Apple's request for a Android device sales ban in the two company's ongoing patent infringement fight. Apple and Samsung have been fighting over mobile device patent infringement claims for some time, and the iPhone and iPad maker has been pushing for a permanent injunction blocking the sale of some Samsung devices following a win in court.
Google doesn't want Samsung hit with a permanent injunction over Android devices
Apple won a major victory in 2012 when a U.S. Federal Court Jury ruled Samsung was infringing on a long list of the company's patents. Apple was granted a preliminary injunction in that case, but Judge Lucy Koh refused to turn that into a permanent injunction. The devices on Apple's list either aren't for sale any more, or have been updated to work around the infringing issues, but Samsung doesn't want to see a permanent injunction over concerns that retailers and consumers will be intimidated into staying away from its products.
The brief stated that comapnies shouldn't be restricted because of what they see as a trivial feature that infringes on a patent. That point, according to Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents, is off base. He commented,
Everyone agrees -- presumably also Apple, which has to defend itself against patent lawsuits all the time -- that complex products shouldn't be banned because of the existence of one 'trivial patented feature.' But the real issue is whether it's reasonable to expect an infringer to either take a license (if the patent holder offers one) or to work around (or 'design around') an intellectual property right. Everything else would be tantamount to a compulsory-licensing regime.
Google's friends of the court, or amici curiae, brief isn't a big surprise since the devices listed in Apple's permanent injunction request all run the company's Android operating system. HTC's brief is likely a preemptive move since it could face an injunction at some point over violating part of the licensing agreement it has with Apple, according to FOSS Patents.
Red Hat and Rackspace have been outspoken opponents of "patent trolls," although Apple doesn't fall into that category since they company isn't simply holding patents and using litigation as a revenue maker. SAP recently lost its bid to get an injunction overturned in the same court.
Samsung isn't the only company with friends in this court room battle. Nokia filed its own amici curiae supporting Apple's position in March over concerns that companies could be forced to license all of their patents to competitors.
The briefs don't give any of the companies an official part in the case, although the Judge can take the filings under advisement. Apple has not commented on the new briefs.