The Patent Wars: The Apple/Samsung Battles
Good artists copy. Great artists steal – Picasso
In 1983 when the first touchscreen mobile device was unveiled by Hewlett Packard, few anticipated its success, let alone foreseeing the fact that the industry would be worth $1.4 trillion by 2014 according to MarketsAndMarkets. The two smartphone giants who emerged solidly at the top of the digital fortunes have been at war over various patents. What started off as a minor dispute between Apple and Samsung has now spiralled out from one patent battle to the other. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep up with the various court cases and some of them are outlined here for your information.
Apple sues Samsung – 2010 – USA – patents claim
Samsung were Apple’s component suppliers in 2009/2010 and Apple sued for leakage of trade secrets to Google for the Nexus programme. Apple were seemingly upset by intricate design leakages and sought an injunction restraining the South Korean company from releasing further data. Judgment was in their favour, but this was only the beginning.
Samsung sues Apple – 2011 – South Korea – patents claim
Samsung sued Apple in April, 2011, filing federal complaints in Seoul alleging Apple infringed Samsung’s patents for mobile-communications technologies. The judges ruled that Apple infringed two Samsung technology patents, while Samsung violated one of Apple’s patents. Damages were awarded to both companies and a temporary sales halt of the infringing products in South Korea, though none of the banned products were the latest models of Samsung or Apple devices at the time namely the iPhone 3G and the Samsung SII
Apple sues Samsung – 2011 – Tokyo – patents and trademarks claim
Apple has filed other patent suits in Japan against Samsung, most notably one for the “bounce-back” feature. On August 31, 2012, the Tokyo District Court ruled that Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets did not violate an Apple patent on technology that synchronizes music and videos between devices and servers. The three-judge panel in Japan also awarded legal costs to be reimbursed to Samsung.
Apple appeal against lesser ruling – 2011 – Germany
In September, 2011, the German court ruled in favor of Apple, with a sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The court found that Samsung had infringed Apple’s patents. Presiding Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hoffmann said there was a “clear impression of similarity”. In March 2012, the Mannheim state court Judges dismissed both the Apple and Samsung cases involving ownership of the “slide-to-unlock” feature used on their respective smartphones.
Samsung sues Apple – 2012 – Britain
Samsung applied to the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, for a declaration that its Galaxy tablets were not too similar to Apple’s products. Apple counterclaimed, but Samsung prevailed after a British judge ruled Samsung’s Galaxy tablets were not “cool” enough to be confused with Apple’s iPad. In July 2012, British Judge Birss denied Samsung’s motion for an injunction blocking Apple from publicly stating that the Galaxy infringed Apple’s design rights, but ordered Apple to publish a disclaimer on Apple’s own website and in the media that Samsung did not copy the iPad. The Judge stayed the publishing order, however, until Apple’s appeal was heard in October 2012. When the case reached the court of appeal, the previous ruling was supported, meaning that Apple is required to publish a disclaimer on Apple’s own website and in the media that Samsung did not copy the iPad.
Apple sues Samsung – 2012 – USA
Apple sued in June 2012 for infringement of its ornamental design accompanied by nine figures depicting a thin rectangular cuboid with rounded corners. The jury returned a verdict largely favorable to Apple. It found that Samsung had willfully infringed on Apple’s design and utility patents and had also diluted Apple’s trade dresses related to the iPhone. The jury awarded Apple $1.049 billion in damages and Samsung zero damages in its counter suit. The decision has been appealed and the saga is far from over and it remains to be seen who will win the war.
In 2015, the tables will be turned as both companies focus on accessories and owning larger percentages of the market share, whether this deters the need for subsequent battles…only time will tell.