The cosmic patent war – Apple vs. Samsung

By Preeteesh Peetabh Singh 
Dialog Reporter

Apple Inc. of the United States and Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea, the two bigwigs of the electronic industry have locked horns in a major patent war. It all started in April 2011 when Apple Inc. sued Samsung Electronics over the design of its Galaxy brand of mobile phones. The lawsuit alleged that Samsung violated Apple’s trademarks, patents and copied their iPhone and iPad. Not after long, Samsung issued a counter-claim against Apple also claiming patent infringement.

Since then, the two companies have been embroiled in legal battles in 10 countries over intellectual property, spanning dozens of cases. The results in some of the countries are in while others are still pending at court. On Aug. 24 Apple registered a major win in the United States when the jury awarded them $1.05 billion in damages. The jury found out that Samsung had intentionally copied iPhone and iPad and used some of their technologies. Apple now wants to ban eight Samsung products from the US market. The next hearing is scheduled on Dec. 6. An appeal against the court ruling is expected from Samsung.

The Apple iPhone 3GS and Samsung Galaxy S

The Apple iPhone 3GS and Samsung Galaxy S

On the same day in South Korea, the court threw out the claim made by Apple that Samsung copied the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad. However, the court imposed bans on some of the Samsung as well as Apple products since it found out that Apple illegally used Samsung’s wireless technology while Samsung breached Apple’s patent related to the way the mobile devices notify users.

On Aug. 31, Tokyo district court in Japan denied Apple’s claim that Samsung infringed on the patent which allows mobile phone and personal computers to share data with each other.

Germany and Australia dismissed Apple’s claims whereas other cases are still pending in other nations like Italy, Netherlands, Britain and France.

This battle between Samsung and Apple is widely viewed as a proxy battle between Apple and Google. Apple is not convinced that Google distributes its Android operating system to phone and tablet manufacturers for free. Google makes money on Android through online advertising and not from direct selling of their products. Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs considered Android to be a rip-off of Apple iPhone’s underlying software and it’s a alleged that he wanted to destroy Google’s Android operating system. So far, Apple has taken on the mobile phone and tablet makers that use Android OS in their products like Samsung and HTC, but it has to be seen if Apple legally goes against Google itself.

Between all the brouhaha going on in the courts, no matter who wins, it is expected that the consumer will lose. The legal battle between the giants might lead up to lesser competition in the market or a monopoly for one of the companies which is bad news for the consumers as it will lead to fewer choices, less innovation and potentially higher prices.

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The cosmic patent war – Apple vs. Samsung