You might have thought it was over but the legal battle between Apple and Samsung is still raging. After being ordered to pay over $1 billion in damages for infringing on Apple's intellectual property and having a number of its smartphones barred from sale, Samsung successfully appealed the court's decision. The company was able to convince the court to recalculate the damages it owed Apple, bringing the figure down to $548 million. Samsung wishes to reduce it further and is fighting the charges again; this time, with a bit of help from other industry giants.
Google, Facebook, Dell, HP and other firms filed a 'friend of the court' brief on the first of this month, weighing in on the matter and supporting Samsung's position. They believe that the damages are exorbitant and that asking a company to turn over all the profits from a device infringing on only a few peripheral features is uncalled for:
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.
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—a result of a few lines out of millions of code—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.
This isn't the only case the two companies are duking out in court. Apple also filed another suit against Samsung in 2012, this time asking for $2 billion in damages, and was awarded $119.6 million. Whatever happens, you can be sure that the matter will not be resolved soon - and will set a precedent that will set the stage for how the industry operates for decades to come.