Tech Firms Back Samsung in Apple Patent Beef

A group of major technology companies is in Samsung Electronics' corner as it appeals a court ruling that would require it to pay almost $1 billion in damages to Apple arising from a patent infringement suit that dates back to 2011. The companies include Google, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, eBay and Facebook.

On July 1, Google and the other companies filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief arguing that upholding the ruling that Samsung pay Apple $1 billion in damages would have "significant detrimental consequences for the continued development of useful modern technologies." That brief was uncovered this week by the InsideSources news Web site.

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"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 companies said in their brief to the court. The group of companies backed up SamsungEUs argument that an Apple victory in 2012 covered only minor technologies, not entire products.

Here's the backstory: In 2011, Apple filed suit alleging that SamsungEUs phones infringed on the design and utility patents, as well as on the overall look and packaging of several iPhone products. The case has resulted in a yo-yo-like progression of damages awarded, reduced and then increased again. Initial damages of $930 million were awarded in 2012 when Apple won at a jury trial.

Samsung appealed the judgment and subsequently, a panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit slashed $382 million in damages related to trade dress dilution, leaving $548 million in damages related to the design and utility patent infringements.

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In March 2013, Judge Lucy Koh ruled the $548 million figure excessive and reduced it, but later that year, another jury...

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