A Look Back at the Great Apple-Samsung Patent War

1 - A Look Back at the Great Apple-Samsung Patent War
2 - The Story Starts With Apple … and Nokia
3 - The Real Fight Began in 2011
4 - The Sheer Number of Patents Was Staggering
5 - Every Device Under the Sun Was Included
6 - The Teflon Samsung (and Apple)?
7 - Germany Becomes the International Epicenter
8 - The Courts Can't Agree on Much
9 - Pick a Country, Any Country
10 - Google Takes a Surprisingly Hands-Off Approach for Much of the War
11 - Apple's U.S. Victory Seals the International Deal
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A Look Back at the Great Apple-Samsung Patent War

by Don Reisinger

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The Story Starts With Apple … and Nokia

Although many believe now that the lawsuits that were flying in the mobile space were always about Apple and Samsung products, that's not the case. In reality, Nokia fired the first salvo in 2009 when that company sued Apple for allegedly infringing upon 10 of its mobile patents. It only took Apple under two months to respond with a countersuit of its own.

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The Real Fight Began in 2011

The real fight between Apple and Samsung began in 2011 when Apple took aim at Samsung for allegedly violating a wide range of patents across its product line. Just a week later, Samsung sued Apple in multiple countries and countersued Apple's initial lawsuit. The fight was on, but little did anyone know it was only beginning.

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The Sheer Number of Patents Was Staggering

When one looks at all of the patent infringements Apple and Samsung brought against each other, the number is staggering. It's hard to get an exact number because so many judges asked the companies to take patents out of the cases to make them more manageable, but rest assured that hundreds of patents were brought up in cases around the world. Wow.

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Every Device Under the Sun Was Included

The other interesting thing about the war between Apple and Samsung was the shockingly high number of devices thrown into the cases. From the original iPhone and Galaxy S to every tablet both companies ever launched, neither Apple nor Samsung left any products on the table. It became so bad last year that Judge Lucy Koh told the companies to whittle down the number of infringing devices they wanted to include in their cases—or else.

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The Teflon Samsung (and Apple)?

On numerous occasions throughout 2012 and 2013, Apple and Samsung won cases in places like Germany and other European countries. However, all of those cases involved preliminary injunctions that, as long as an appeal was filed, allowed the firms to continue offering the allegedly infringing products for sale while the disputes were ongoing. So, while cases might have gone to one side or another, save for the case in the U.S., at the end of it all, neither company really saw sales hurt because of an alleged infringement.

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Germany Becomes the International Epicenter

If one were to examine where the lawsuits were most likely to happen in 2012 and 2013, it'd be hard to say any other place but Germany. It seemed as if each week there was a new case or judgment coming down from a German court. In 2012 alone, several German courts, including quite a few in Mannheim, were the epicenter of the battle between Apple and Samsung.

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The Courts Can't Agree on Much

If one were to examine the timeline of the Apple-Samsung war, they'd discover that courts don't agree on much. While a lower court ruled in favor of both parties on several occasions, a simple appeal to a higher court threw out the earlier rulings. Nowhere was that more apparent than with Apple's so-called "rubber band" patent, which was effectively tossed out by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after that same office said the patents were valid. It was a mess and caused a ripple effect in the cases.

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Pick a Country, Any Country

Although Germany was, for a period, the epicenter of the battle between Apple and Samsung, it was by no means the only place it was happening. Apple and Samsung sued each other in Japan, Australia, across the European Union and in North America. Both companies wanted to get the other firm's products banned, and they stopped at no border to see that happen.

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Google Takes a Surprisingly Hands-Off Approach for Much of the War

Google took a surprisingly hands-off approach during much of the war between Apple and Samsung. While Google was cited in the case between the companies in the U.S. and its Android platform was of major concern to Apple, the search company tried its best to stay above the battle and left Samsung to fight its own war. It was a rather surprising move, and it might have hurt relations between the firms.

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Apple's U.S. Victory Seals the International Deal

Ultimately, it was Apple's win in the U.S. that might have caused both companies to end their international spat. Apple won a landmark ruling in the U.S. that could see the company net close to a billion dollars. The victory was devastating for Samsung and speaks to the continuing conflicts Samsung runs into with Apple's patent portfolio. At this point, Samsung has apparently reasoned that it's easier to wave the white flag in certain parts of the world than continue the fight on all fronts.

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