Whether you use their products or not, you surely must be aware of the gigantic legal conflict between Apple and Samsung, as the two companies are suing and countersuing each other in patent-based cases in 10 markets across four continents. One of the most important trials in this complex battle is the U.S. Apple vs Samsung case, as the American smartphone and tablet markets are very important for both companies.
With just a few days before this lawsuit starts (July 30), Apple and Samsung execs met in California for the second time in a matter of months, but they were not able to reach common grounds, for the second time in as many meetings.
The mediation meeting was attended by Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Samsung’s Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung joined by the company’s mobile chief Shin Jong-Kyun. A settlement is apparently not likely to happen at this point but rather after the trial starts.
According to Reuters, the two parties disagree on various “major issues,” including FRAND patents, or standard essential patents:
These are patents which Samsung agreed to license to competitors on fair and reasonable terms, in exchange for having the technology be adopted as an industry standard.
Some judges are reluctant to issue injunctions over such patents.
Apple believes those patents should be valued lower due to those dynamics, one of the sources said. Additionally, Samsung believes it has a stronger patent portfolio than Apple when it comes to next-generation technology like 4G, the source said.
Apple has been so far able to score more pre-trial victories than Samsung in various legal proceedings, both in the U.S. and in other markets. Most recently, Apple won a couple of injunctions in the States against the Galaxy Nexus (first appeal denied, sales ban stayed on second appeal) and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (two appeals already denied).
Samsung has scored its own victories recently in the UK, where a judge ruled that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is not infringing any Apple iPad patents as the Android device is “not as cool.” This ruling may have been a less than pleasing remark for the South Korean Android maker, but then the same court decided that Apple has to publicly advertise the fact that the Galaxy Tab is not infringing any iPad tech – Apple should post these announcements on its UK website and in various prestigious local papers. Apple is currently appealing that decision – the injunction denial rather than making amends for its allegations.
Worth remembering is that various judges in Europe have already cleared Apple of infringing 3G-related Samsung patents. Also of significant importance is that Samsung is now being investigated by the EU for alleged FRAND patent abuse in such legal matters. Not to mention that Judge Richard Posner said in its dismissal ruling of the U.S. Apple vs Motorola case that the latter was not likely to obtain any favorable verdicts by trying to leverage its FRAND patents against the iPhone maker, or any other company. Therefore, it will certainly be interesting to see how this U.S. trial is going to go.
But the trial is not all about FRAND patents:
The trial will feature both utility and design patents. Apple utility patents in the case include those that cover how touch-screen devices discriminate between one finger on the screen, or more, and respond accordingly. Apple design patents include those that relate to the black front surface of a phone.
Moreover, we'll point out the fact that Apple has been recently granted a very important iPhone patent that pretty much describes the modern smartphone experience, a patent that is already seen as a potential weapon against Android handset makers.
A similar Apple vs Samsung case is now being tried in Australia, and we’ll certainly keep you in the loop on the progress of these tedious legal matters and their significance for the mobile environment.