March 31, 2014
Another Round Of Patent Wars Could Be Back For Apple And Samsung
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Last December it was reported that the back-and-forth of patent disputes between Samsung and Apple had reached a level of détente, as the two tech giants resumed negotiations over patent-infringement claims. This followed November’s Apple win over Samsung Electronics when a federal jury handed down its verdict, finding in favor of Apple and ordering Samsung to pay more than $290 million in damages for patent infringement.
It did look like these patent disputes were in the past and in 2014 the two companies could remain out of court – at least when it came to suing one another. However, it looks like another round is set to begin.
On Monday the Associated Press reported that the fiercest rivalry in the world of smartphones could be headed back to court. Apple reportedly is seeking about $2 billion in damages from Samsung for selling handsets and tablet devices that Apple alleges violate five of its mobile software patents. Samsung has countered that Apple has in fact violated two of its patents.
So much for détente, and The New York Times also reported, “Officially, it’s Apple versus Samsung Electronics in another tech patent face-off in a San Jose courtroom this week. But there is another company with a lot at stake in the case — Google.”
Officially the case is Apple vs. Samsung, 12-00630, at the US District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose.
According to reports it isn’t just the design of the Samsung’s handsets that Apple objects to, but also Google’s Android operating system, which is currently the dominant mobile OS worldwide. It now runs on more than a billion devices made by numerous manufacturers beyond Samsung.
If Apple wins this latest round Google could be forced to make critical changes to features in Android – and Samsung along with those other manufacturers may be forced to modify the software on handsets accordingly.
“Google’s been lurking in the background of all these cases because of the Android system,” Mark P. McKenna, a professor who teaches intellectual property law at Notre Dame, told The New York Times. “Several people have described the initial battle between Samsung and Apple as really one between Apple and Google.”
Thus this case will likely be much more than just the latest round between Samsung and Apple, but it has also been noted that Apple’s victories to date do not guarantee it an automatic win this time around.
Computer World reported that lawyers for both sides will get about 25 hours to argue their case, which will take the trial through most of April. During this time the lawyers will dissect the ins and outs of the smartphone OS.
Apple filed its complaint in 2012, alleging that Samsung “systematically copied Apple’s innovative technology and products, features, and designs, and has deluged markets with infringing devices in an effort to usurp market share from Apple. Instead of pursuing independent product development, Samsung slavishly copied Apple’s innovative technology, with its elegant and distinctive user interfaces product design, in violation of Apple’s valuable intellectual property rights.”
In more simple language it comes down to Apple patents that include such features as “slide to unlike” and an autocomplete – while Samsung counters that it holds the patents for remote video transmission system and digital imaging.
“All patent cases come down to the language in the claims,” McKenna told Computer World. “You can’t take too much from the previous case. It’s round two but it’s not the same products and not the same patents. We’ll have to see how the court sees these patents.”
Lawyers for both sides are now expected to spend much of Monday selecting a jury, which Computer World also noted can be no easy task in Silicon Valley, where both Apple and Google employ thousands of individuals and exert wide influence.
After the jury selection is completed, the trial will be heard on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays over the next few weeks.