Picture this: you’re a fruity tech company (no, not BlackBerry), which is suing its competitor, Samsung, for patent infringement in courts around the globe. You win a case in the US, requiring Samsung to pay you more than a billion dollars in damages, but the judge fails to grant you a sales ban to stop the company from selling its gadgets and eating up your marketshare. You file an appeal, asking the court to reconsider. And who should step in to help you out? Another competitor: Nokia.
No ad to show here.
Ok, so it’s not exactly that simple, but Nokia has indeed filed an amicus curiae brief and a supporting motion (obtained by The Verge) in support of Apple’s appeal. While the filing isn’t public, the motion is — and Nokia states clearly that it is worried the case will set a “dangerous precedent” that will make it difficult for patent holders (like itself) to challenge possible infringers in the future.
Judge Lucy Koh originally denied the sales injunction saying that Apple couldn’t prove that the harm it is suffering is because of Samsung’s use of its patents, as oppose to Samsung’s general competitive activity. By requiring Apple to establish this causal nexus, Nokia’s attorneys say the court has “diverged from the precedent of this court and could severely restrict, if not outright eliminate in some circumstances, the ability of a patent holder to obtain injunctive relief.”
As it’s issuing this filing as an amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’), Nokia says it isn’t taking sides in the battle, but merely adding additional information that could be relevant as a patent holder itself. In the motion, its attorneys say that it is interested in advocating for patent laws that protect IP rights and encourage innovation by allowing patent holders to stop selling infringing products.
Apple consented to Nokia’s motion calling for a reversal of the denial of the injunction (Samsung, predictably, did not). In the case in question, the court found that 26 Samsung products violated Apple’s design and utility patents — and while most of the offending gadgets have been discontinued and the remaining three altered since the ruling, the sales ban could still go through, as US law does not allow for a suspension of an injunction just because the company has stopped selling or changed the original products.