Samsung and Apple have fired lawsuits against each other related to mobile devices, but their relationship makes this anything but a typical patent battle.
and iPad compete fiercely with Samsung's Galaxy S smartphones and Galaxy Tab
tablet for mobile market share. Yet the two are also co-dependent, with Apple a
major purchaser of components from Samsung, which is only too happy to cash the
checks. However, a burst of lawsuits threatens to permanently alter that
patent-infringement lawsuits against Apple in South Korea, Japan and Germany
April 21. "Samsung is responding actively to the legal action taken against us
in order to protect our intellectual property," read an April 22 statement
a Samsung Website, "and to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the
mobile communications business."
responding to Apple's patent-infringement case filed against it by Apple in the
U.S. District Court of Northern California. The 38-page suit details Apple's
allegation that the look, packaging and user interface of Samsung's smartphones
and tablets closely copy the Apple iPhone and iPad.
innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its
smartphone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple's
technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products,"
in its suit
Apple also has
patent-infringement suits against Nokia, HTC and Motorola. But the Samsung
lawsuit (and countersuit) offers something of a curve ball, considering that
Apple is a major customer of Samsung parts, including microchips and memory
regulatory filings, Apple was responsible for roughly $6 billion-that's 4
percent-of Samsung's 2010 revenue. In addition, the
tech site AnandTech reported April 15
that some Apple MacBook Air models
run SSDs (solid-state drives) manufactured by Samsung.
That might be
why Apple COO Tim Cook, during
his company's April 20 earnings call
, offered a more moderated response
than you might think to the prospect of a long legal war.
"I expect the
relationship to continue," he told media and analysts listening to the call,
while adding: "We felt the mobile division of Samsung had crossed the line ...
after trying for some time to work the issue, we decided to rely on the
using patent-infringement cases as leverage against their rivals is nothing
new, of course. Microsoft has fired several intellectual-property lawsuits
related to Google Android, aiming them at everyone from Barnes & Noble
(makers of the Android-based Nook e-reader) to Motorola.
platform infringes a number of Microsoft's patents, and companies manufacturing
and shipping Android devices must respect our intellectual-property rights,"
Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's corporate vice president and deputy general
counsel for intellectual property and licensing, wrote in a March 21 statement
accompanying news of the Barnes & Noble lawsuit. "To facilitate that, we
have established an industry-wide patent licensing program for Android device
also managed to position Android-device manufacturers such as HTC into
intellectual-property agreements, which presumably results in payments to
Microsoft. Those agreements could also give Microsoft a way to keep a closer
eye on the developing Android platform at a time when the company is trying to
push its own Windows Phone 7 to consumers and businesses.
lawsuit against Samsung is a little different, however, in that it accuses
Samsung of copying its "style," as opposed to merely infringing on
technological patents. Given the relationship between the two companies, what
would otherwise be an outright battle could more resemble a delicate dance.