Apple and Samsung have long been embroiled in one of the most expensive patent warfare in the history of the tech world. Apple recently had a field day when a U.S. court ruled in its favor, asking Samsung to pay a whopping $1.05 billion in damages. However, the story doesn’t end here.
This victory is definitely huge for Apple and may have continued repercussions for Samsung. Although Samsung is all set to appeal against it, Apple may be able to have a number of Samsung products banned in the U.S.
Confusion over Pinch-to-zoom feature:
However, many have claimed that Apple has played with the technical jargon in attaining this victory. One of the main patents which formed the basis of Apple’s victory was about the pinch-to-zoom feature. Apple first introduced the multi-finger gestures which Steve Jobs famously introduced with his statement, “And boy, have we patented it!’
But Google and other companies were able to create a pinch-to-zoom feature through their own ways, without essentially infringing Apple’s patents. In a way, pinch-to-zoom itself is simply a feature that is not patentable. But most users and people other than aware with the legal jargon are under the impression that Apple ‘owns’ this feature. And that may have played a critical role in helping Apple score a win against Samsung in he U.S. court.
And Apple seems very well aware of the critical significance of the court’s ruling against Samsung. On Friday, it filed a separate case with the federal court claiming that another four Samsung products, including the latest Galaxy flagship smartphone, S III, infringe Apple’s patents. If Apple succeeds in this, this can be a huge blow to the South Korean electronics maker.
However, in other parts of the world, Samsung is being far more lucky. Earlier in it’s home ground South Korea, Samsung was fairly exonerated except with a tine fine whereas Apple had to pay a greater sum in comparison for infringing Samsung patents. Now, a court in Tokyo has also rejected Apple’s claims that Samsung infringed its patents. The Japanese court clearly stated that it didn’t find any patent infringements in Samsung’s products.
Samsung vows to fight on with its LTE patents:
While Apple basks in the glory of its victory in U.S., Samsung is certainly not sitting back counting stars. Rather, the company has plans of getting at Apple as soon as it launched an LTE-enabled iPhone. Samsung’s own flagship Galaxy S III feature LTE connectivity but Apple has yet to introduce the feature in an iPhone device.
The next iPhone is expected within the next two months and Apple may have to equip it with LTE to make it attractive enough. However, Samsung holds 10% of total LTE patents and intends to sue Apple if it releases an LTE-enabled iPhone. Clearly, Apple is treading risky grounds here and according to analysts, the next iPhone may indeed be without LTE.
Google and Apple looking to settle issues:
In the meantime, while Apple and Samsung continue their war, Google seems in a far more peaceful mode. The search giant who is also the vendor for Android software, is apparently in talks with Apple to settle its disputes. The main contention between Apple and Google is over Android which, Apple alleges, infringes many of its patents.
According to reports, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Google’s CEO Larry Page spoke through phone recently and have plans of continuing their conversations. Both are attempting to settle the patent dispute outside of court. It is possible that after Samsung’s loss in the U.S. court, Google feels pressurized to settle with Apple. After all, many of the features lambasted by the court in its ruling against Samsung are Android-related. This gives Apple a huge advantage if it ever decides to legally go after Google, which it hasn’t yet.
While the recent verdict against Samsung in the U.S. was a very significant decision which will affect the entire smartphone industry, the patent wars seem far from over.