The battle in the patent courts between Samsung And Apple does seem as though it is one which has been going on for far too long. That said, more recently, it did seem the last of the arguments were being heard when Samsung agreed to pay Apple roughly $548 million in damages. Although, this was quickly followed by Samsung appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court and asking the Court to look closer and even reevaluate how patents are awarded and to some extent, defined. To some, this felt as though it was a last ditch attempt by the South Korean company to justify not paying, although Samsung did seem to be asking for a more wider review of the patent system, stating that this could in a system which could damage innovation going forward.
Now it looks as though those sentiments have struck a chord with other companies and across the spectrum. It is now being reported that a number of companies have filed to be a ‘friend of the court’. A process which is known as amicus curiae. In short, the idea behind such a filing is to lend their support by offering what is considered information that may be relevant to the case at hand, although the information comes from parties which have no relevance to the actual case or have not been asked by the court or the parties involved. It would seem that the reason behind these companies getting voluntarily involved is that they are all looking to address the current status quo on how patents (in particular doesn’t patents) are awarded and damages calculated. What makes these friends of the court filings so interesting though, is the length and breadth of those who are filing. On the one hand, some of the companies said to be lending their support are the likes of Google, Facebook, eBay, Dell, HP, among others. However, there are others who are also to be joining the fight and lending their support including the EFF, Public Knowledge, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Leadership Fund and even law professors from Stanford and Georgetown, again, among others.
The one common theme which all the groups and companies seem to agree on, is that the current patent system is one which is in need of updating. It is being thought that if the system stays as it is, it will continue to stifle innovation and choice and also increase the cost to consumers. All arguments Samsung made in their original appeal. Of course, whether these new ‘friends of the courts’ will have any notable outcome on the Apple/Samsung case in particular, remains to be seen. But what it does clearly highlight is that going forward, the patent system is one which an increasing number of companies, groups and organizations would like to see changed, or at least, updated.