Facebook, Google, HP, Dell and SAS have come out in support of Samsung in its ongoing design patent case against Apple in the US.
The tech giants, along with eBay, networking firm Limelight Networks and retailer NewEgg, filed a ‘friend of the court’ amici curiae with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on 1 July, but it has come to light only now.
The briefing argues that a fine handed down to Samsung in the case against Apple could have serious implications for the rest of the technology market as it has applied the damages costs to the entire device, rather than just the areas infringed.
“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 briefing said.
The document went on to cite how this could affect all areas of the tech market, covering other hardware and even software and web tools.
“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," it said.
"Software products and online platforms face similar dangers. A design patent may cover the appearance of a single feature of a graphical user interface, such as the shape of an icon. That feature may appear only during a particular use of the product, on one screen display among hundreds.
"But the panel’s decision could allow the owner of the design patent to receive all profits generated by the product or platform, even if the infringing element was largely insignificant to the user and it was the thousands of other features, implemented across the remainder of the software, that drove the demand generating those profits."
V3 contacted Samsung for its response to the filing but it declined to comment. Apple had not responded to a request for comment.
The move is notable as it shows how closely the case is being watched by major technology firms which continue to fear that the legal frameworks regarding patents are not suitable for the modern digital market.
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