The ongoing saga between Apple and Samsung has taken another fresh turn this week, as the iPhone producers look to sue their smartphone rivals for $2 billion over a new patent discrepancy. It is understood both tech giants share one or two far too familiar features in their handheld products for Apple’s liking, and a legal battle of remarkable proportions is due to take place in San Jose, California to once again settle what seems to be a never-ending argument.
Because of the fact that US litigation is relatively slow, accusations against Samsung will largely be based around products that were manufactured around two years ago, in a repetition of the lawsuit that took place in 2012. Those proceedings were concluded with Samsung ordered to pay Apple $1 billion in damages, although that figure was later reduced to $929 million and is currently undergoing a further appeal. Should this new trial find Samsung guilty a second time, it is likely the penalty will be substantially more considering their increase in sales are taken into account.
These expanding sales can be thanked in part to the company’s use of Google-backed Android operating software, and despite the fact that Google does not financially benefit from Android, representatives of the search engine will attend the trial. It is hoped that the presence of a Silicon Valley-based company in Samsung’s defence (as Google is) will help level the playing field, and counter what Samsung’s legal team sees as Apple’s home advantage (their headquarters is located in Cupertino).
Executives at Google are keen to explain how they produced the software that went into powering more than 75% of all smartphones sold by Samsung last year, and any similarities with the iOS system created and used by Apple is purely coincidental. Of course, with a similar based defence strategy in the last case, the new patent discrepancy raised by Apple against Samsung looks like it might provide a similar result.
The court battle will revolve around five specific features related to what some might say are minor software functions. Included among these are the correction of misspelled words (an evolution of the now outdated “predictive text”) Apple’s iconic “slide to unlock” function, and the ability to search both the Internet and files on the device in one attempt (dubbed “universal search”).
Comparing multiple devices from the two manufacturers, there is little doubt that these specifications are extremely alike, but what Apple must prove is that consumer demand for Samsung products was increased significantly by their use of infringing features. In a counter accusation, Samsung are asserting that Apple have duplicated two of their patented utilities, but are only suing for damages totalling just over $22 million.
District Court Judge Lucy Koh will preside over the court case as she did the last time, but not for want of trying to encourage Apple and Samsung bosses to resolve the issue independently. The pair had opened negotiations before Apple started legal proceedings, but ultimately failed to reach mutual satisfaction.
As each of the multinational corporations continue to fight one another for the controlling share in a market worth many billions of dollars, the new patent discrepancy between Apple and Samsung will probably turn out to be a tiny drop in the ocean if and when the feud ends, and the dust finally settles.
Opinion by Zachary John