Apple, Samsung Patent Slugfest Returns To Courthouse - InformationWeek
Mobile // Mobile Business
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Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

Apple, Samsung Patent Slugfest Returns To Courthouse

Apple wants Samsung to pony up $40 per smartphone for patents. Will the strategy backfire?

Mobile World Congress: 5 Hot Gadgets
Mobile World Congress: 5 Hot Gadgets
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Apple wants blood from Samsung. The iPhone maker believes devices such as the Galaxy S II and S III are copycat products whose success is attributable to Apple's intellectual property. Apple is seeking $2 billion in damages from the Korean firm and hopes this second trial fully exposes what it views as Samsung's theft. Meanwhile, Samsung is innovating and moving on with new and different product categories while Apple offers only iterative updates to its devices.

Like the first major trial between Apple and Samsung, the second trial takes place in San Jose, Calif. US District Judge Lucy Koh is once again presiding over the trial, which will be heard and decided by ten jurors who've not yet been selected. Apple and Samsung have been filing motions with the court furiously in the lead-up to the trial, and Koh has been stern with both firms about the rules of the courtroom and what they may and may not present to the jury. Apple sued Samsung over five patents, and Samsung countersued over two. Here's a quick rundown on the patents.

The Apple patents in question cover system and method for performing action on a structure in computer-generated data; universal interface for retrieval of information in a computer system; synchronous data synchronization among devices; unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image; and method, system, and graphical user interface for providing word recommendations. These are all utility patents, not design-related patents. The first major trial between Apple and Samsung in 2012 pertained to the design patents. Apple says ten Samsung devices violate these patents, including the Galaxy Admire; Galaxy Nexus; Galaxy Note and Note 2; Galaxy S II, S II Epic 4G Touch, and S II Skyrocket; Galaxy S3; Stratosphere; and the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

[Does Apple have some new innovation in the works? Read 5 Apple Patents Hint At Surprises.]

The Samsung patents in question cover camera and folder organization functionality, and video transmission functionality. It's important to note that Samsung's patents were acquired -- not developed -- by Samsung. In fact, Samsung didn't acquire the first of these patents until after Apple filed its first lawsuit against Samsung, in 2011. Samsung says eight Apple devices violate these patents, including the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5; the iPad 2, 3 and 4; the iPad mini; and the fourth- and fifth-generation iPod Touch.

This trial is entirely separate from the one in which a jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages (of which about $930 million stuck). Combined, Apple might eventually see a payday of about $3 billion. That's a lot of money, but Apple is taking a hit in the reputation department. Some are beginning to see it is a litigious dollar-chaser rather than an innovator of fine mobile products. There's no question that Apple still makes a lot of money from the iPhone and iPad, especially when you consider the impact of iTunes and the App Store, but it's easy to wonder what Apple could create if it spent less time litigating and more time on product development.

Since Apple filed the first lawsuit in April 2011, the basic designs of the iPhone and iPad haven't changed much. Sure, Apple increased the iPhone's display from 3.5 inches to 4 inches, improved the camera and processor, and added a fingerprint sensor, but the company hasn't delivered a serious "Wow!" since the debut of the iPad back in 2010. During this same time period, Samsung introduced the Galaxy S III, S4, and S5, each with its own improvements. It launched the Note, Note 2, and Note 3 phablets, creating and capitalizing on a brand-new device category. The company also introduced four different wearables, and its tablet selection ranges from dirt cheap to top of the line. Samsung has diversified its product mix and is selling devices in big numbers. After years of rumors, larger iPhones and the iWatch still haven't panned out, leaving many to wonder if they'll ever show up.

Apple's demand that Samsung pay it $40 per offending device is ludicrous on its face. The company might do better to license its broad patent portfolio rather than litigate it. Unless Apple chooses that path, it will continue to battle Samsung for years to come -- both in the courtroom and on retail shelves around the world.

What do Uber, Bank of America, and Walgreens have to do with your mobile app strategy? Find out in the new Maximizing Mobility issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Strategist
3/31/2014 | 4:53:33 PM
Re: Biased article
Of course everyone is going to look to you to 'be in the tank' with Samsung, when you have such thoroughly Apple-colored glasses.
Number 6
Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
3/31/2014 | 1:53:47 PM
Litigation vs Innovation
Good summary. Some of the commenters have missed that this is a Commentary column, so you're putting forward your opinions.

I disagree with your comment about "what Apple could create if it spent less time litigating." It's not necessarily an either-or. Different divisions of the company are likely involved with each, so there's no significant opportunity cost in pursuing litigation at the same time.

As for licensing its patent portfolio, that's a possible outcome. Real or threatened litigation is one way to bring a potential licensee to the negotiating table.
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2014 | 1:51:52 PM
Is this the round corners thing again?

Love the graphic btw.
User Rank: Apprentice
3/31/2014 | 1:50:54 PM
apple/samsung screw job
samsung should just tell apple to go screw itself. walk away and ignore them and the cheap junk they make.
User Rank: Strategist
3/31/2014 | 12:41:56 PM
I noticed there is other national news today about the Supreme court and patents.  It sounds like the judges are angry over all the stupid lawsuits, like this one is.
User Rank: Apprentice
3/31/2014 | 12:41:38 PM
Biased article
The author seems to be in the tank for Samsung. Samsung is "innovating" while Apple only engages in "incremental" design updates. I would hardly call anything Samsung has or is doing as innovative. Smart watch was already announced by Apple - and Samsung wanted to be first to market with what everyone describes as crap. Fingerprint scannner- uh, already another Apple feature. Health cate focus- another early Apple interest. Gold color phone...Soon, Samsung will be announcing the opening up of their independent stores. They produce quickly, but generlly produce junk operated with borrowed OS...
User Rank: Strategist
3/31/2014 | 12:38:51 PM
Trash article
The artible seems a bit biased, wouldn't you say?

"The iPhone maker believes devices such as the Galaxy SII and SIII are copycat products"...
"and hopes it exposes what it views as Samsung's theft"...


Definitely not true. Fact is, multiple court cases in the U.S. and throughout the world ALREADY PROVED that Samsung DID STEAL patented technology (not just by Apple, also Microsoft and others).  And Samsung lost in its re-suits and appeals.  This case is here ONLY because Samsung is a sore loser -- Apple has to go to court to force the courts to make Samsung pay (even though Samsung lost, it is unwilling to pay).

It's easy to write such trash articles just for page hits - it shows lack of journalistic credibility.
User Rank: Strategist
3/31/2014 | 12:36:39 PM
Stupid popups
Please remove the incredibly annoying stupid popups off this website.  It does absolutely nothing except cause people to not want to visit the website.

The one popup I got I can't even close the stupid thing, and couldn't even read the article with it taking up half the browser window.
User Rank: Apprentice
3/31/2014 | 12:32:27 PM
Contingency Fee Lawyers Never Settle for Less than an NFL Franchise
What if the judge ruled that no patent can be worth more than FRAND payments. How would Apple like that. What if purely fashion decisions were ruled to unpatentable. Apples patent everything tactic backfires?
User Rank: Apprentice
3/31/2014 | 12:32:19 PM
What a crock of
This article is completely biased against Apple under the guise of objective reasoning. Samsung is not the innovator you make it out to be. You can not discount Apple for failing to innovate because it has not changed it's form factor in some wild way. Samsung plays it's game by manufacturing for other companies and building off the innovation of others. They make quality goods, but its off the backs of others hard work and research. I am so sick and tired of all these idiot writers who never take into consideration how innovation works. Innovation is not being first to market, it is not coming out with more products faster, it is about creating a product that offers a new and usefull experience to the user. Please name one new experience that Samsung has offered its customers that has truly enhanced the lives of its customers, other than being a cheaper bigger alternative to something. That includes TVs, appliances, etc. As for the legal battle, you brought up some good points, but you really belittle the blatant theft that Samsung engages in. Samsung will put as many businesses as it can out of business if it has its way based on its current strategy of owning the supply chain and competing on cost, and Apple is the first company to actually challenge Samsungs abuse of the supply chain (using the information it gains from produceing the internal parts) with companies like Appple. I don't know why I even bother, your mind already seems made up, but hopefully I save someone the disservice of thinking that your words mean anything of relevance.
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