Samsung has some new allies in its fight to overturn Apple's big mobile device design patent win. Google, Facebook, HP, Dell, and several other companies have filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals asking for the ruling against Samsung to be overturned because it poses a serious risk to the ongoing development of new and useful technologies. In essence, they're saying to move technology forward they need to be able to copy competitor's designs without fear of repercussion.
The filing states that if Apple's win is "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 ruling Samsung's new friends are referring to was Apple's 2012 landslide courtroom victory where a jury found that the electronics maker willfully infringed on several iPhone and iPad related design patents. Apple was awarded over US$1 billion in damages, but that number was later dropped to $980 million, and Samsung has been fighting to get that even lower.
This new amicus brief claims companies could be forced to hand over all their profits to competitors for specific products should they be found to infringe on even the most insignificant patent. That concern is in reference to a push for Samsung to give Apple all of its profits for patent infringing Galaxy smartphones and tablets.
Samsung and its courtroom allies feel the current trend in smartphone and tablet designs simply is what it is; they say the radical design changes after the iPhone was introduced weren't a reaction to Apple, but instead were part of the natural design of mobile phones.
It does seem like a striking coincidence that the blocky button-laden smartphone design disappeared practically over night when the iPhone was introduced, but what do I know? I'm sure Samsung and other smartphone makers wouldn't have any incentive to say their iPhone-like designs were completely original if that weren't the case.
The filing goes on to say, "Should the court uphold Apple's victory and force Samsung to pay damages, it could open up other companies including Google to further patent infringement lawsuits." That's absolutely true, and exactly the point: When companies infringe on patents, they open themselves up to potential lawsuits.
Asking the court for the ability to copy competitor's designs without accountability is a pretty brave move, but isn't too surprising. If they don't push for what they want, there isn't any chance of getting it.
Apple responded to the filing by saying Google's comments should be ignored because the company has a vested interest in Samsung's outcome. "Google has a strong interest in this particular case, is not an impartial 'friend of the court,' and should not be permitted to expand Samsung's word limit under the guise of an amicus brief," Apple said.
When you can't innovate, litigate.