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Google, Facebook, others push for rehearing over damages in Apple v. Samsung patent case

Google, Facebook, eBay, H-P and other Silicon Valley players, along with various interest groups, are asking the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals to rehear a decision that denied Samsung's plea for damage limitations in an ongoing patent lawsuit involving Apple.

In a "friend of the court" brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on July 1, Dell, eBay, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Limelight Networks, Newegg, and SAS Institute spoke out against the panel's decision to uphold a California jury's damages award, saying it could stifle innovation in the tech sector. The amicus brief was uncovered by InsideSources on Monday.

Samsung, which was found guilty of infringing upon three Apple design patents, was ordered by the Apple v. Samsung jury to pay damages based on the entirety of its smartphone profits. In its appeal, the Korean company argued damages should be limited to profits gained from infringing features.

Instead, as pointed out by the tech group, the panel of CAFC judges cited a relevant statute that "explicitly authorizes the award of total profit from the article of manufacture bearing the patented design." In its decision, the appellate court noted that smartphones are viewed as a single "article of manufacture" since Samsung does not sell internal phone components separately from their external chassis.

"If allowed to stand, that decision will lead to absurd results and have a devastating impact on companies, including amici, who spend billions of dollars annually on research and development for complex technologies and their components," the party said.

Basically, the companies argue that a refusal to limit damages to infringing features could have huge impact in an era when consumer products incorporate many highly sophisticated components within a single device. That Samsung can be successfully sued over singular design features and forced to pay damages based on overall device sales rather than a portion of profits sets a dangerous precedent, the group argues.

The filing supports Samsung's request for an en banc, or full 12-judge panel, review of a CAFC decision that found the Apple v. Samsung jury correctly arrived at damages worth $399 million. Samsung was initially on the hook for $930 million, but the same federal court in May found the company violated Apple's design patents, but not trade dress, resulting in a damages reduction to $548 million.