Apple, Samsung Wage Patent War in Courtrooms Around the World

 
 
By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2012-07-20
 
 
 

Apple and Samsung continue to swap legal blows with varying degrees of effectiveness in their relentless global war over alleged patent infringement.

In the latest tussle, Apple won a round against Samsung on July 19 when a three-judge panel for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied a Samsung motion that asked the court to stay a previous court order that halted sales of its Galaxy 10.1 Tab in the United States.

The original ban, which was declared by a different California judge on June 26, was put in place to stop alleged patent infringement by Samsung while the case filed by Apple continues to be heard in the courts. The ruling followed similar actions by courts in Germany and Australia.

Similar legal fights between the two companies over patent infringement are also going on in South Korea, Japan, Great Britain, Germany and other countries.

In June, Apple upgraded its patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung to include the Galaxy 10.1 tablet. Apple alleges that the product violates its intellectual property rights.

In addition to the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the expanded complaint targets a multitude of other Samsung devices such as the Galaxy S II. Muller detailed how Apple added three utility patents to the list of allegedly violated intellectual property, including two hardware patents focusing on touch-sensitive panels and a software patent for graphical user interfaces. The company also added five new design patents, and four trade dress applications, to that list.

The Apple-Samsung legal fight is not your typical intellectual-property battle because while the companies are fighting in court in public, they actually do a fair amount of business together behind the scenes. Apple remains a major purchaser of components from Samsung, which is only too happy to cash the checks.

Samsung originally filed patent-infringement lawsuits against Apple in South Korea, Japan and Germany April 21. €œSamsung is responding actively to the legal action taken against us in order to protect our intellectual property,€ read an April 22 statement posted on the Samsung Website, €œand to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communications business.€

The statement was in response to Apple€™s filing with the U.S. District Court of Northern California, a 38-page suit that claimed Samsung€™s smartphones and tablets closely copied the iPhone and iPad in look, packaging and user interface.

However, Apple sustained a major setback in its litigation campaign when a British court ruled on July 16 that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn€™t infringe on Apple's patents, at least in the United Kingdom. The court ordered Apple to publish notices of it ruling in several widely circulated UK newspapers and on its UK homepage for six months, according to a Reuters report.

Apple is also involved in patent infringement legal fights with other vendors, including Motorola. In June, a U.S. District Court judge in Illinois dismissed Apple's 20-month-long case there against Motorola after lashing some of Apple's key legal arguments in his 38-page court decision.

In his written opinion in the case, which was released June 23, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Posner criticized the approach that Apple took in bringing the matter to court. The two companies have been fighting in court over the design of their competing mobile devices.

Instead of seeking damages for the alleged infringements, Apple sought an injunction to protect it in the future from what the company claimed was irreparable damage from continued infringements of its patents by Motorola, the judge wrote.

"By failing to present a minimally adequate damages case, Apple has disabled itself from arguing that damages would not provide a complete remedy €¦ [Apple] harps on the loss of consumer goodwill and market share, as a ground for an injunction, but not only has no real evidence of such a loss, but given the nature of the patent claims, it is not a loss that an injunction would avert,€ Posner wrote. 

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