Since April 2010 Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. have been embroiled in a bitter dispute over mobile technology patents. So far, both sides have engaged in more than fifty lawsuits all across the world. On July 30 began the trial in San Jose, California that is expected to last for four weeks. This is going to be a high stakes trial as both the parties have a lot to lose with billions of dollars on the line.
According to Apple, Samsung has infringed upon three of its patents: touchscreen word suggestion, actionable linking and slide-to-unlock features. If proven guilty, Samsung will be required to take out these features from all its devices. Apple has also accused Samsung of copying the look of the iPad for its tablet, specifically the rounded corners on a rectangular body. If Apple wins, Samsung may have to pay more than $2.5 billion in compensation for the alleged violations. The sale of Samsung’s tablet and galaxy smartphones could possibly get banned within the U.S.
In June, U.S. District Court Judge, Lucy Koh granted Apple a preliminary injunction through which it could take Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 off the shelves pending the conclusion of the ongoing trial. Subsequently, sale of the Galaxy Nexus smartphones were also banned.
Not to be left behind, Samsung countersued Apple over patents concerning 3G data transmissions and mobile communication systems. Apple has been accused by Samsung of copying the design for the iPhone from Sony. Samsung also claimed that Apple infringed upon the feature by which you can take a picture on a phone and effortlessly email it.
It is generally believed that whichever company is found guilty will have to pay a licensing fee to the other to use the patents. But it is also possible that the victorious party may choose not to license their patented technology.
The two have been fighting legal battles all over the world. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 has been banned all over Europe after a German court decided that it had used features from Apple’s devices. A UK court forced Apple to advertise for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 on its website after giving the verdict that the Samsung tablet could not be a replica as it was not “cool” like the iPad.
Meanwhile, the Australian Court is not too thrilled with the lawsuit. According to Bloomberg, Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett believes that the dispute is “ridiculous” and should be settled in mediation. Australian officials had last year temporarily prohibited the sale of Galaxy Tab 10.1. Although the Galaxy Tab was later permitted back on shelves, Samsung had already countersued Apple by then. In Justice Bennett’s opinion, had it been any two other companies the case would have immediately been sent for settlement talks.
With its wide range of devices, Samsung is currently the leading smartphone manufacturer having swiftly overtaken Apple and Nokia. In fact, Samsung and Apple together account for more than fifty percent of smartphone sales internationally. It is the consumers of both Samsung and Apple that may suffer the most from the outcome of the trial. The trial could potentially restructure the continuously evolving tablet and smartphone industry.