One of the longest and much talked about battles in tech history between arch rivals Apple and Samsung has finally come to an end... sort of. While the rivalry will take its natural course, the result of the legal patent war that has been raging on for the last few months has come in favour of Apple in the U.S., for now. Here’s a quick recap of the events in the case.
As the final verdict so far, the jury stated that Samsung has infringed on Apple’s patents and will have to pay the latter a whopping sum of $1.049 Billion. This verdict has come in favour of Apple as the jury has rejected all of Samsung’s claims. Samsung will not only have to pay Apple for the damages but its various leading devices may also be banned in the U.S. However, Samsung is likely to file an appeal against this decision, and one shouldn't be surprised if the legal limbo continuous. Samsung has said that this isn't the final verdict and ' a loss for the consumer.'
The once-friends-turned-foes went public with the feud last year with a lot of mudslinging over patents and designs. The outcome is a huge setback for the Korean firm as its leading devices have been accused of infringement. While Samsung loses in the U.S., a Seoul court ruled on Friday that though Samsung Electronics' flagship Galaxy smartphone looks very similar to Apple's iPhone, the South Korean firm has not violated the iPhone design. The judge said it was difficult to say that consumers would confuse the iPhone with the Galaxy given the fact they clearly have the respective company logos on the back of each model, and consumers also factor in operating systems, brand, applications, price and services when buying a phone.
Is it a mere coincidence that these two technology titans who are locked in a high-stakes global patent battle have seen positive legal outcomes on their home-grounds?
Apple and Samsung in a legal limbo
Samsung devices to bear the brunt
Reportedly, the list of devices that may suffer in the U.S. market over infringement include – Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, Nexus S, Mesmerize, Vibrant, Fascinate, Skyrocket, Continuum, Prevail, Infuse, Gem, Mesmerize, Indulge, Replenish, Epic 4G Touch, the Droid Charge smartphones and the Galaxy Tab and Tab 10.1 tablets.
The patent infringement is going to cost Samsung and its devices quite a bit. Some of these patents that are reportedly infringed by Samsung, as declared in the final verdict, include:
- Patent 381: Bounce Back Scroll functionality which occurs when one scrolls to the end of a list.
- Patent 91: that includes Pinch to zoom, one finger scroll and zoom navigation. Except for a handful of devices, almost all Samsung handsets and tablets use this feature. Then again, it’s quite standard across the Android platform itself and also features in some other mobile operating systems as well.
- Patent 163: Tap to zoom
- Finally, the jury has found Samsung quite guilty of infringing on Apple’s design patent.
- Some Utility patents were also included.
Apple Vs Samsung: Flashback
Apple and Samsung have been fighting it out for over a year now; the mud slinging and blame game has managed to make quite a few headlines.
It all began in April last year when Apple sued Samsung for copying its product ideas. A 38-page suit filed by Apple in the U.S. District Court of Northern California states that instead of coming up with a totally unique concept for its smartphones and tablets, Samsung chose the convenient path of using Apple’s user interface, look, product design and packaging, among others. Proving its allegations further, Apple publicly showcased the similarities in the iPhone 3GS model, released in June 2009 and Galaxy S i9000 model, released in March 2010. In an answer to Apple’s allegations, Samsung slapped 10 copyright infringements against Apple. The 10 infringements include five patent infringements in South Korea, two in Japan and three in Germany.
Soon after, the Samsung-Apple tug of war over design started making news. Apple accused Samsung of copying the design of its products. The iPad maker even asked for permission to view the designs of Samsung’s yet-to-be-released products to ascertain the safety of the designs of its own products. Samsung, in a bid to balance both sides, asked Apple to show them the designs of its yet-to-be-released products, i.e., the next version of the iPhone and the iPad. However, Samsung was denied permission to peek into Apple’s stash of prototypes. The judgment further added that Samsung’s open ways of proceeding with product releases didn’t quite fit its claims of product secrecy. This in contrast with Apple’s well guarded trade secrets gave Samsung the final setback.
Apple shows the similarities (Image Credit: Engadget)
After Apple’s small victory of not allowing Samsung to peek into its products, the latter reportedly asked for import ban of Apple products in the U.S. On the other hand, Apple asked for a ban on the sale of the Galaxy S. As per the request forwarded to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Apple asked for a ban on Samsung’s Galaxy S 4G, Infuse 4G, Droid Charge smartphones and also the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
In the following months, the Apple-Samsung battle intensified further. The Apple Samsung saga moved to Australia wherein Apple stopped ads and the sale of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the continent. Samsung had been very keen on launching its coveted Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia and had been making announcements for the same. The Australian court delivered its verdict on the ongoing Apple - Samsung tussle in the country in favour of the Cupertino-based Apple. The decision meant that a temporary ban on the sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia will be levied.
Samsung was soon reported to be guilty by the Dutch court for infringing on one of Apple's patents pertaining to the Gallery app on its smartphones. The ruling stated that with effect from October 13, 2011, a ban will be imposed on the sale of the Samsung Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Galaxy Ace smartphones unless Samsung does something to fix the issue. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 was free to roam Europe, save Germany.
Soon Samsung counter-sued Apple in Germany. It even offered to tweak the Tab 10.1 to begin sales in Australia. However, after securing a block on the latest Galaxy tablets in Germany, Apple even rejected Samsung’s offer to end the tablet battle in Australia. While Apple got the Galaxy Tab 10.1 banned in Germany, reports about Samsung seeking a ban on iPhone and iPads on its home turf, Korea, started surfacing.
After reports about the ban of Samsung products in EU, Australia and Korea, the iPad manufacturer headed to Japan. Apple reportedly approached the Tokyo District Court with an appeal in the form of a lawsuit to have several of rival Samsung's key products banned in the country. Apple wants the Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy S II, as well as its Galaxy Tab 7 banned from sale in Japan.
Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringed iPad patents
In the U.S. judgment, the judge said Samsung's Galaxy tablets do infringe Apple's iPad patents, but also said Apple might have a problem establishing the validity of its patents. The comments from U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh came in a court hearing in San Jose, California. Lucy Koh later discarded Apple’s claims over Samsung misinterpreting the license over certain patents.
Samsung redesigned the Galaxy Tab to avoid ban in Germany and also got the temporary ban lifted from Australia. Apple soon said that the reworked tablet is still a copy of the iPad. In fact, Apple also listed out some alternate designs for Samsung smartphones and tablets. Here are some ideas listed. The battle got sour and personal which was clearly seen in the product advertisements. Earlier this year, Apple accused Samsung of infringing on its 'slide-to-unlock' patent in the Galaxy Nexus. Apple also started pushing for the Galaxy Nexus ban in the U.S. The Samsung Galaxy S III, reportedly one of Samsung’s most powerful smartphones which received accolades from its users, also faced heat from Apple for infringement of patents.
The US judge sent Apple and Samsung to go make peace and settle the matter. A court filing earlier this year stated that the respective heads of these technology giants would try to come to terms and forge a settlement. Apple and Samsung CEOs headed to a court-ordered play date and met for over two days in San Francisco, but the talks that lasted 2 days - nine and seven hours, respectively, failed to elicit any decision.
This week, both the companies made their final pitches to the U.S. jury. Apple spent four years pouring resources into developing the iconic iPhone, while Samsung couldn't keep up and eventually decided to copy its major competitor, an Apple attorney said in court. Apple attorney Harold McElhinny urged jurors to consider the testimony of a Korean designer who said she worked day and night on Samsung's phones for three months. Finally, after much deliberation, Apple emerged victorious.
From the beginning, legal experts and Wall Street analysts viewed Samsung as the underdog in the case. Apple's headquarters are a mere 10 miles from the San Jose courthouse and jurors were picked from the heart of Silicon Valley where Jobs is a revered technological pioneer. While the legal and technological issues were complex, patent expert Alexander I. Poltorak had previously said the case would likely boil down to whether jurors believed Samsung's products look and feel almost identical to Apple's iPhone and iPad. However, as Samsung claims, this isnt the final verdict, so lets wait and watch.
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