Two of the biggest names in electronics will go back to court. The battle has been going on since early last year, and from the looks of things, won’t be settled any time soon.
Back in April 2011, Apple sued Samsung for infringing on their iPhone and iPad patents, stating that: “Instead of pursuing independent product development, Samsung has chosen to slavishly copy Apple’s innovative technology, distinctive user interfaces, and elegant and distinctive product and packaging design, in violation of Apple’s valuable intellectual property rights.”
Apple specifically targeted Samsung’s Galaxy S phone and tablet, the Nexus S and the Epic 4G. Apple brought forth 16 claims against their technology rival, which included trademark infringement, unjust enrichment and 10 other patent claims.
As Samsung comes out with more smartphones and gadgets, Apple continues to add more to their lawsuits against them. In an official lawsuit filed in July 2012, Apple attacked the fairly new Galaxy Nexus, stating that:
“Apple accuses the Galaxy Nexus of infringing four patents: (1) the ‘604 Patent, titled ‘Universal Interface for Retrieval of Information in a Computer System,’ which generally describes a ‘unified search’ feature; (2) the ‘647 Patent, titled ‘System and Method for Performing an Action on a Structure in Computer-Generated Data,’ which generally describes a ‘links for structures’ feature; (3) the ‘721 Patent, titled ‘Unlocking a Device by Performing Gestures on an Unlock Image,’ which generally describes a ‘slide to unlock’ feature; and (4) the ‘172 Patent, titled ‘Method, System, and Graphical User Interface for Providing Word Recommendations,’ which generally describes a ‘word recommendations’ or ‘auto correct’ feature.”
In that court document which was specific to the Galaxy Nexus, it states that, “the Court concludes that Apple has shown that the ‘604 Patent, ‘647 Patent, ‘721 Patent, and ‘172 Patent are likely valid and infringed.
Heading back to the United States District Court of the Northern District of California in San Jose on December 6th, Apple and Samsung will renew a battle that could ultimately change the smartphone market.
Samsung is asking the court to throw out the $1-billion jury verdict against them for patent infringement due to jury misconduct. Apple seeks to block sales of Samsung products that include the Galaxy S 4G and the Galaxy S II, and neither side seems to want to back down.
In addition to the legal battle in San Jose, the two giants are going head to head in other countries, with a slew of lawyers on each side.
Why is this fight so important? It could be a crucial decision for both companies, with the winner gaining leverage in the fast-paced and ever-growing billion dollar market. Each side wants to protect their stake, since they risk losing their high position on the mobile leaderboard as so many companies before them have done. Prime examples of companies that were once at the top of the game but are nowhere to be seen are BlackBerry and Nokia. Both of these were once the biggest names in mobile phones and handheld devices, but lost their edge once new technology started coming out.
And why specifically the smartphone patents? Before the iPhone was introduced in 2007, smartphones were still in their infancy. The Palm Treo was as close as it got, and once Apple debuted the iPhone, the smartphone market took off and became mainstream.
In addition to Samsung, Apple also sued HTC, a Taiwanese smartphone and tablet maker, claiming that their phones were an infringement on Apple’s iPhone patent. The battle between Apple and HTC officially ended when they announced that they agreed to dismiss the series of lawsuits that they had filed against each other.
Portions of the official court documents between Apple and HTC were released on December 5, 2012 thanks to the dispute with Samsung, as Samsung was determined to include the Apple/HTC agreement in its own fight with Apple. The documents show that both HTC and Apple will get nonexclusive rights to portions of each other’s patents. Apple also stated that they will not sue HTC over a number of their products, which remain secret at this time since portions of the released document were redacted.
What are not included in the deal are Apple’s design patents and 9 HTC patents. Also seemingly excluded is the coverage of any products that can be deemed a “clone” of Apple products.
The deal with HTC does, however, mark the first settlement between Apple and other device manufacturers that use the Android system. With the Android phones gaining popularity, Apple’s stronghold of the smartphone and tablet market has been threatened. Apple is also taking on other Android smartphones makes, but Samsung remains the biggest name and also the biggest threat to Apple’s empire.
Thus, the question remains whether this settlement was a sign that the smartphone patent wars may be coming to an end, or whether Apple may have been clearing the deck to devote its full attention to the epic patent battle with Samsung. See The Beginning of the End for the Smartphone Patent Wars?