Apple and Samsung Settle Patent Dispute Proving Patent Litigation Doesn’t Hinder Consumer Access

This legal dispute, which was brought to courts in 10 different countries and even went to the U.S. Supreme Court, is notable because it undermines the argument that major patent infringement battles harm tech consumers through added costs and blocking innovation.

On Wednesday, June 27th, Apple and Samsung settled their epic patent patent — the great smartphone patent war — with a pair of orders of dismissing current litigation in U.S. federal district courts. 

One order of dismissal entered in the District of Delaware and the other order of dismissal entered in the Northern District of California, marked the official end of the patent war which played out between consumer tech giants Apple and Samsung for the better part of the past decade. This legal dispute, which was brought to courts in 10 different countries and even went to the U.S. Supreme Court, is notable because it undermines the argument that major patent infringement battles harm tech consumers through added costs and blocking innovation.

These cases involved the assertion of dozens of patents, most of which were asserted by Apple, covering technologies incorporated into some of the most commercially successful consumer tech products of all time. Apple’s patents, which covered various utility features and design elements of its iPhone products, were first asserted in Northern California in April 2011 when Apple alleged that Samsung, which had been a component supplier for Apple, infringed upon its patents through the sale of various Android smartphones and tablets, including the Galaxy S 4G and the Galaxy Tab.

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“The oft-touted ‘smartphone patent wars’ were not all they were made out to be, not blocking products from the market and barely denting the companies’ bottom line,” Rutgers Law School professor and IPWatchdog contributor Michael Carrier told USA Today.

Carrier is exactly right. While both Apple and Samsung lobbed patent infringement lawsuits at the other in various countries, in a variety of different tribunals around the world, neither company showed even a hint of slowing down in terms of smartphone innovation. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to remember that the smartphone revolution is only 11 years old. It wasn’t until 2007 that Steve Jobs and Apple launched the world’s first smartphone, which was then promptly copied by Samsung. Since then smartphones have become more powerful, substantially better computing devices, substantially better phones, have incorporated substantially better cameras for both video, still and live photos, and enable never dreamed of portable assistance— even technophobes — from map apps with talking directions, to personal assistants that can look up and find information, to monitoring health data, listening to satellite radio and so much more.

What consumer technology has so transformed daily life for billions of people over such a short period of time, with the technology getting better every year?

Still, those who have an unnatural, unhealthy and irrational hatred of patents say we are supposed to somehow believe that the most high-profile patent case of the last decade is proof of the evils of a patent system run amok. The problem is that even with the thousands of legal filings in multiple jurisdictions around the world, and a case involving the potential of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of infringement damages, there was no innovation blocked. There was no research and development stopped. No products were kept away from consumers. Billions of smartphones somehow managed to find their way into the hands of consumers despite patents. An inconvenient truth for those who hate patents.

Anyone who decides to advance the idea that patent infringement suits either hurt consumer choice or are a detriment to the U.S. economy, especially in light of the results of the settlement between Apple and Samsung, is duplicitous.

While those who say patents get in the way of innovation don’t ever allow facts to get in the way of their erroneous arguments, they really do have a lot of explaining to do now that the great smartphone patent wars have ended and we can actually see what has happened.

 

Image Source: Deposit Photos.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and founder of IPWatchdog.com. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and an attorney with Widerman Malek. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

Gene Quinn

Steve Brachmann is a writer located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He has become a regular contributor to IPWatchdog.com, writing about technology, innovation and is the primary author of the Companies We Follow series. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 16 Comments comments.

  1. Josh Malone July 2, 2018 11:44 am

    But it did reinforce the ridiculous parameters for enforcing patent rights in the United States. I can estimate based on the number of filings, trials, and appeals that the parties spent over $100M in legal costs and fees. And it was still years away from a final judgment! It worked out fine for Apple, but it obliterates start-ups. It does not matter how revolutionary an invention is, taking a U.S. patent into litigation versus one of these behemoths is suicide. Contingencies are out of the question – most inventions are not worth a half billion dollars, and firms don’t have the depth or risk tolerance for the ones that are.

  2. John July 3, 2018 4:15 am

    What it did prove is the US patent system stinks. It was no deterrent to Samsung, and made total financial sense for them to knock off Apple’s stuff. Also, that Apple’s legal team has always been and continues to stink, and were soundly out-maneuvered by Samsung’s team.

    Basically, Quinn Emmanuel probably cost Samsung, say 20-40mm, and saved Samsung around 500mm, and prevented Samsung from having a final judgement on the record that they are dirty filthy rotten copiers…

    Money well spent for them, with the side benefit of highlighting that the US patent system is a worthless joke.

  3. John July 3, 2018 4:19 am

    Oh yea, and not to mention, the value to Samsung copying and establishing a position was in the tens of Billions, so even the original judgement just shy of 1B was a joke, that Quinn Emmanuel made funnier by denying at least half that payment.

    It didn’t help that Apple’s legal team picked some of the worst iPhone patents it could have from its portfolio. But nonetheless, and overall, just a s*** show of the US patent system.

  4. Benny July 3, 2018 5:44 am

    So you take a single litigation case as representative of the whole industry? I don’t think so.
    Patent litigation harms US consumers because it blocks market access to competitors.
    Other than that, it is more or less a zero sum game, since the loss of market to one player is offset by the increased market share by another, and the money drained out of litigating companies flows into law firms.
    Of course, if a foreign competitor is wielding its’ US patent portfolio to block US companies from the market…

  5. Steve July 3, 2018 8:25 am

    This article does not help those who have had their inventions used and not paid for by infringing patent pirates. Very bad message sent here. It seems to support what Apple and others have been doing for years without impacting their bad behavior. What prompted you to write this demoralizing message?

  6. Jianqing Wu July 3, 2018 8:33 am

    The U.S. patent system has become a “perfect” system for big players. It is totally a wreckage for individual inventors and small entity patent holders (with small exceptions for individuals with horns). A vast number of companies have used no-contact patent policy: if you have a patent, few corporations will even review. I have attributed this to the unwise law the U.S. created in charging willful infringement but failed to address willful refusal. So, inventors cannot complain. Second, “go-ahead to use patented inventions” becomes a culture. Most patent experts do not know this worst culture. The lawmakers have created such a great patent landscape! IPR, invalidation, venue, reduced damages, mental steps, means-plug-function…. even tiny technical errors can get infringers off the hook. There is absolutely no incentive to even think about buying or licensing patents. I found a massive number of patents are expired each week. Among the small inventors, few of them can keep buying patent terms. So, most small inventors are hooked on such wrecked system for paying never-ending maintenance fees until they wait up, realizing it is time to stop waste more money.

    The excitement enjoyed by big corporations is irrelevant to individual and small inventors. The patent system has dropped the original mission of promoting innovation in the entire spectrum of art.

  7. Night Writer July 3, 2018 9:13 am

    @2 and 3 John

    Good comments. No doubt that Samsung just ripped off Apple and there were little consequences. And Quinn Emmanuel just illustrates how people can be bought for far less than the technology and used to burn the patent system down, e.g., Mark Lemley.

    @4 Benny
    I see you are at your ridiculous nonsense again. “zero sum” game. Actually, the opposite is true. What the patent system does is expand the technology and market for everyone.

  8. Bemused July 3, 2018 9:26 am

    Benny@4: “Patent litigation harms US consumers because it blocks market access to competitors.”

    How so? Injunctions are almost never granted so how is market access blocked?

    Perhaps you meant that patent litigation harms blocks market access because it is so expensive that small inventors and/or start-ups can’t afford to defend their patents while also attempting to bring their new/innovative/competitive products to market?

  9. Paul Morgan July 3, 2018 9:28 am

    This enormously costly litigation proved that: (1) when Jobs started his grudge suit against Samsung that Apple did not have any enforceable utility patents fundamental to essential smartphone features, (2) Samsung apparently recklessly disregared Apple design patents, (3) There were serious problems with litigation of the design patents re claim scope,103 obviousness, and damages, due at least in part to unclear case law.

  10. Poesito July 3, 2018 4:36 pm

    Gene & Steve– Are you aware of H.R. 6264 submitted last Fri., June 29th?

  11. Gene Quinn July 4, 2018 12:57 am

    Poesito-

    Yes, and we are going to write about it. Unfortunately, for a bill that has been long awaited for many months the timing is truly unfortunate. On a Friday in DC usually signals something that one wants to bury. On a Friday before a major holiday week where many, if not most, are taking the week off, that either signals very poor timing or something else.

  12. Benny July 4, 2018 1:40 am

    Bemused @8,

    Have you ever heard of FTO? It’s a thing, at least where I work.

    Happy independence to the US readers. Enjoy it while you still have it.

  13. Night Writer July 4, 2018 12:07 pm

    @12 Benny

    You really are a bad actor. You said zero sum game. I responded to that. You ignored my response. You just yap out your propaganda and are unwilling to engage. Saying patents are a zero sum game completely mischaracterizes the role of patents. A zero sum game is a game where there “is a mathematical representation of a situation in which each participant’s gain or loss of utility is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the utility of the other participants.” Patents are not this as patent encourage a growth in the technology and are by definition to something new.

    You really are a bad actor Benny. You just yap out your propaganda and then run to yap it out the next day. Try engaging on this topic.

  14. Benny July 5, 2018 3:27 am

    Night,
    You obviously understand what a patent is, but you don’t appear to understand why small to medium sized businesses invest in patents. I don’t have time to explain it to you.
    I don’t earn a living from filing and prosecuting patents. I earn a living from from forcing my competitors’ products out of my market niche. I will patent every possible technological advance on our products solely to ensure that our competitors cannot bring that advance to the market.

  15. Night Writer July 5, 2018 8:20 am

    @14 Benny I will patent every possible technological advance on our products solely to ensure that our competitors cannot bring that advance to the market.

    And you are inventing those technological advances because you can get exclusive use of them for a limited time.

    And don’t try to pull rank on me in business. I was a product manager for a large international corporation for a consumer product that was sold in over 50 countries.

  16. Ternary July 5, 2018 11:27 pm

    I was curious about HR 6264. I could not find the complete text, but found a summary on https://cpip.gmu.edu/2018/06/29/rep-massie-introduces-new-legislation-to-restore-americas-patent-system/ Not intended to steal your thunder Gene, but this is really worth our attention. I am looking forward to your detailed article on this.

    These are the elements of HR 6264 and reads like a summary what is currently wrong with our patent system. Not surprisingly it was characterized elsewhere as the Patent Troll Act:
    a) returns the United States to a first to invent patent system.
    b) abolishes Inter Partes Review (IPR) and Post-Grant Review (PGR).
    c) abolishes the PTAB.
    d) eliminates fee diversion and provides for full funding of the USPTO.
    e) confirms the patentability of scientific discoveries and software.
    f) to assure that the restored § 102 retains the one-year grace period and that certain disclosures by the inventor do not become prior art.
    g) reestablishes the previously long-held status of patents as a property right.
    h) ends the automatic publication of patent applications.
    I) codifies the details of the presumption of validity and available defenses to patent infringement.
    j) confirms that injunctions are available to protect the patent property.
    k) restores the possibility of invalidating a patent for failure to comply with the best mode requirement.

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