And here we thought the Apple vs. Samsung court case was basically finished... It turns out it's like a monster in a horror movie that just won't die.
A large array of tech titans have penned a "friend of the court" briefing which supports Samsung against Apple in yet another appeal of the patent court case. Companies like Google, Facebook, HP, DELL, eBay & more all signed on to the document which is basically a protest of the way the court awarded "profit" damages in the Apple vs. Samsung case.
The initial ruling in the case was north of $1 billion, but the amount was later reduced to $548 million during a previous appeal. Samsung has filed a motion to completely reverse the overall decision. The argument in the "friend of the court" briefing contends that if the court orders Samsung to turn over total profits as damages, the legal precedent would eventually lead to stifled innovation, because it would open the door to more egregious lawsuits in the future.
The snowball effect they propose is that this would reduce incentives for various tech companies to invest in research & development. Their argument is that the damage result of this case doesn't make sense because complex technology like smartphones include thousands of different software and hardware components. By awarding total device profits damage based upon individual component infringements (as Samsung is being ordered to do in this case), any tech innovator would be vulnerable to patent infringement cases for the tiniest features, like a specific user interface creation that only appears on a single screen of an app.
Here is another example they gave,
“Under the panel’s reasoning, the manufacturer of a smart television containing a component that infringed any single design patent could be required to pay in damages its total profit on the entire television, no matter how insignificant the design of the infringing feature was to the manufacturer’s profit or to consumer demand.“
Apple has requested Google's involvement in the briefing be dismissed since its Android operating system is used on Samsung’s handsets. Samsung has also asked the court to rehear the case with a full 12-judge roster rather than the 3-judge panel it used previously.
Disclaimer: The above image is intended as humor to fit the story. It is not meant to suggest that these companies are like horror movie monsters. The analogy might fit their legal teams though!