In July last year, it was reported that a group of Silicon Valley companies including Facebook, Google, Dell, HP, eBay and others were petitioning a federal appeals court to review its decision ordering Samsung to turn over profits from a handful of Apple patent infringements. Now, the tech giants have been joined by legal experts and nonprofit organizations in supporting Samsung and are urging the US Supreme Court to reconsider the lower-court's decision.
In the original 2012 trial, Samsung was ultimately made to pay Apple $548 million over the infringement of an iPhone design - even though the patent in question (rectangular shape and rounded corners) is only a small part of the smartphone's appeal, Samsung and the others argue. Samsung’s allies have warned the high court that the Korean company’s loss "will lead to absurd results and have a devastating impact on companies.”
In all, six amicus or “friend of the court” briefs were filed. In addition to the tech giants, other groups supporting Samsung include law professors, nonprofit digital rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, advocacy groups such as the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the Hispanic Leadership Fund, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce.
As the patent ruling forces a company to pay out all their profits for an infringing product, the technology industry is convinced that this will open the door for an increasing number of patent trolls – shell companies whose business model is to acquire patents and then launch lawsuits.
If the ruling stands as it is, companies also claim that it will have a detrimental effect on their new products. They say the fear of facing a legal challenge will stifle innovation.
The Supreme Court – which hasn’t dealt with a patent suit since the 1800s - is likely to decide whether to take the case before its term ends in June.