Monday, September 10, 2012

Apple versus Samsung

The titanic battle between Apple and Samsung is not likely to end anytime soon. Dan Rowinski wrote that “as much as Apple and Samsung want everybody to believe that one is on the side of good while the other is completely evil, the reality is that that is just not true. It is possible to not be right while not precisely being wrong.”

Apple fired the first salvo when they took Samsung to court. And on August 24, 2012, Judge Lucy Koh’s jury in San Jose, CA took three days of deliberations before handing down their guilty verdict on the latter for multiple willful infringements on the former’s software and hardware design patents.

After Apple had won $1.05 billion in damages in this massive US court victory over Samsung, the iPhone maker’s CEO Tim Cook had boasted that Apple’s victory was a triumph of values.

“For us this lawsuit has always been about something much more important than patents or money. It’s about values. We value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. And we do this to delight our customers, not for competitors to flagrantly copy,” Cook wrote in a memo leaked to 9to5 Mac.


Sure, if we had looked at some of the first generation Galaxy devices, they did appear to be like carbon copies of the iPhone 3G. Samsung’s Touch Wiz skin on top of its Android OS looks to be very much inspired by Apple’s iOS of then. But we already knew about this, right? Samsung has thrived and dramatically grown by being inspired by the best and the latest. It has built its mobile phone business on top of innovations by Motorola, Nokia and Apple. Samsung is certainly not innocent.

But Apple is not exactly an angel either. In the trial brief, Samsung had contended that Apple was using patents to try to “stifle legitimate competition and limit consumer choice to maintain its historically exorbitant profits”. Samsung had cited internal Apple documents and deposition testimony to conclude that Apple borrowed its ideas from others, especially Sony.

Apple, according to Samsung, was clearly innovative in refining the ideas of others – meaning, it was not an original inventor either.

It must be said that whoever had won this particular case, it is going to be appealed, no matter what! This is just one more encounter on the case's journey to the Supreme Court.

Exactly one week later, Samsung defeated Apple in a patent battle in a Tokyo Court. Judge Tamotsu Shoji said he did not think Samsung products fell into the realm of Apple technology and dismissed the lawsuit, filed by Apple in August of last year – the latter had sought both damages and to block the sale of its rival’s products in the lucrative Japanese market. As well as dealing a blow to the US firm, the ruling will help Samsung pick itself up after the US defeat, analysts said. Lest we kill ourselves with unbridled joy, it should be mentioned that this Japanese ruling was on just one technology – so it is unfair to try to draw any conclusion on its overall impact.

The Japanese verdict was the latest chapter in a bitter global patent war between the smartphone goliaths who have accused each other of stealing intellectual property for their own products.

This epic battle between two technology behemoths will turn out to be a long-drawn affair with patent lawsuits on four continents. My point is, what’s the point of it all?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It is probably a "smart" way for Apple to file a lawsuit against Samsung on inmitate the "swipe" and "pinch"function, where Apple can slower down Samsung development on smartphone but definitely not knock off.

It is true that such action will stringent the smartphone market. What Apple doesn't realise that he is taking a stone and drop on his own leg. Apple will putting a hard time on itself because smartphone development has no boundaries, where the ideas are build on old ideas. Does that mean that Apple has to keep on sueing others when the same functions appear on non-Apple prodcts? In such case, Leonardo Da Vinci can't rest in peace.

Afterall, consumers are smart enough to go after the products that offer them the best.