You know you’re watching an epic battle when the action continues after the final bell. Such is the case with the bitter slugfest in which Apple and Samsung have been embroiled, a fight that peaked with a U.S. court’s ruling on August 24 that Samsung had violated numerous Apple patents and an order to cough up over $1 billion in damages. But if what’s happened in the days since the lopsided verdict was announced is any indication, the fight is far from over.
Still smarting over their big stateside loss, Samsung is poised to draw first blood against Apple in the next chapter. With the release of the iPhone 5 imminent, Korea Times reported that Samsung has vowed to sue for a sales ban if rumors of the iPhone 5′s 4G LTE compatibility prove true. Considering the high number of LTE patents that Samsung owns, this could be a painful blow against Apple.
Samsung’s not so subtle threat comes on the heels of Apple’s announcement of a second patent lawsuit and the addition of even more Samsung mobile devices it wants banned in the U.S. Added to the ever growing wish list is the Samsung Galaxy SIII, which has outsold expectations. Also in Apple’s crosshairs is the Galaxy Note, which has also sold well in the US and abroad.
The Wall Street Journal reports a possible March 2014 date for the second hearing, which will take place in the same court as the first hearing and be presided over by the same judge, Lucy Koh. None of the patents from the first case will be addressed in the second hearing. Since most of the patents in question during the initial case related to design, and the Galaxy SIII design starkly differs from previous models, it begs the question; what patents will Apple sue over in round two? According to reports from the WSJ, the patents in question revolve less around the design, but mostly around the Android OS, meaning Google might be more involved this time around.
The hearing on September 20, a follow up to the original hearing, will address Samsung’s wish to lift the ban on sales of its Galaxy Tab 10.1. Originally, as PhoneArena reports, Apple was set to appear on this court date to request a permanent injunction on eight Samsung devices before the holidays. However, Judge Lucy Koh felt that Apple’s injunction request should wait until a separate hearing on December 6, so that all post trial ends could be tied up prior to bringing in new injunction requests.
Different Countries, Different Results
The fact that previous lawsuits filed in various countries have led to vastly differing results is clear indication that the concept behind patent violation depends on who’s doing the conceptualizing. On August 24, two courtrooms – one in Seoul and one in San Jose, the latter literally minutes away from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters – led to uniquely different results. In San Jose, Apple won a lopsided victory. In Seoul, the victory for both was mixed, with a court there finding that both companies had done their fair share of patent violating and ordering both to halt sales of certain mobile devices in South Korea. For Apple, the impacted devices include the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, and first and second generations of the iPad. For Samsung, it was a total of 12 devices including the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab.
But this battle isn’t just being waged in America and South Korea. Last year, Apple succeeded in its efforts to ban the sales of Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Android tablets in Australia – a decision that was overturned in December and is currently still in review. Fast-forward to August 31 and a Tokyo courtroom, where Samsung was handed a quick victory by a judge who slapped down Apple’s patent violation claims. In the lawsuit filed in Japan, Apple accused Samsung of infringing on patented technology used in the synchronization of music and video with servers. Similar legal tangles between Apple and Samsung have taken place in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, Apple and Google have reportedly entered talks in what may lead to a peace treaty of sorts. Although never directly involved in legal combat, Apple’s lawsuits against Samsung and other mobile manufacturers (including HTC and Motorola) who rely heavily on the Android OS is something of a proxy war that echoes the late Steve Jobs’ desire to go “thermonuclear” on Google.
In a seeming attempt to distance themselves from the fight, Google released a statement following Apple’s U.S. courtroom win against Samsung that said, “Most of these [patent claims] don’t relate to the core Android operating system. We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don’t want anything to limit that.”
In fact, many wrongly believe that Apple has a patent on the popular pinch-to-zoom web interaction function and single-finger scroll. The Verge discovered that in fact, Apple’s patent is limited to a single-finger scroll on the y axis (up and down) with other functions like pinch to zoom enabled with two fingers. With Android, users can scroll web pages on both the y and x axis (left and right) with a single finger.
Regardless of the outcome of the pow-wows, don’t expect Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page to emerge arm in arm. The bitter blood remains and Apple has moved to sever former ties with the search giant. It began with Apple ditching Google Maps in iOS for a homegrown solution, and then removing the dedicated stock YouTube in iOS 6. This is probably a result of the license for the features expiring and Apple (or Google) deciding not to renew rather than Apple tossing Google apps out of iOS. YouTube and Google Maps will undoubtedly be available as standalone apps in the iTunes App Store.
All things considered, probably the strangest curiosity of all lies in the fact that Apple is one of Samsung’s biggest customers, relying on the chips and components Samsung manufactures to power iPhones and iPads alike. But with Apple’s business accounting for almost 10 percent of Samsung’s earnings, it doesn’t seem likely that any bitterness over lawsuits and attempted injunctions will bleed into a professional relationship that’s predicted to generate some $7.5 billion this year. Strange bedfellows, indeed.