Saturday, December 22, 2012

Samsung Drops Injunction Requests Against Apple

I like to think that Samsung showed wisdom when the company dropped its request for a ban on sales of certain Apple phones and tablets in Europe – a sharp tactical turn in a patent war that the companies have been fighting on multiple fronts around the world.

Samsung had been seeking injunctions in a number of countries, contending that Apple, Samsung’s formidable rival in the smartphone market, had infringed on Samsung patents. But really, Samsung had, for a long time, missed the point. So did Apple. We are referring to standards-essential patents (SEP) which are patents on technologies such as the underpinnings of 3G connectivity, and they are used across broad parts of an industry. And since they are standard technologies, they should be licensed on a reasonable basis. If this is the case, then we shouldn’t expect manufacturers to sue each other over these SEP’s.

Samsung said it had acted “in the interest of protecting consumer choice”. Well, that is just Samsung’s corporate PR talking. It is likely that Samsung finally realized the futility of these lawsuits. Some analysts though mentioned that Samsung’s decision could be due to the close scrutiny it is receiving from the European Commission. In January, the commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into Samsung’s terms for licensing patents covering wireless technologies. Under a previous agreement, Samsung ahd pledged to make the patents available to competitors on “fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory” terms.

The move Tuesday came only a day after a ruling in a related case in San Francisco, where a US District Court judge rejected a request by Apple for an injunction to block sales of certain Samsung devices. The decision followed a previous jury ruling that Samsung had violated Apple patents.

Anyway, lawsuits are simply distractions for both companies. To be honest, I cannot understand why they even bother to sue. At the end of the day, don’t you think these phones more or less do the same thing?

In any case, both Apple and Samsung are doing very well.

Kantar has put the millions of phones sold into context by claiming that Apple obtained 53.3 percent of US smartphone market. In the three-month period ending November 25, 2012, more than half of all smartphones sold in the US were Apple iOS devices like the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S. According to Kantar's Dominic Sunnebo, the iPhone 5 – released towards the end of the third quarter – boosted sales to push Apple beyond the "50 percent share mark for the first time, with further gains expected to be made during December." (Webpage, published December 21, 2012).

Samsung’s phones, especially the Galaxy S3, have also been selling like hot cakes. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, the Samsung Galaxy S3 was the best-selling smartphone in the world in the third quarter, surpassing even Apple’s iPhone 4S (Webpage, published November 08, 2012). Samsung’s Galaxy S3 smartphone model shipped 18.0 million units worldwide in the said period and Apple shipped an estimated 16.2 million iPhone 4S units worldwide for second place.

Back to the story. Samsung is not ending all lawsuits against Apple in Europe, just the injunction bans involved with these lawsuits. So the war between Apple and Samsung is far from being over. And their lawyers are laughing all the way to the bank.

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