It’s funny how quickly can things turn around in such a “take no prisoners” kind of war as the legal one between Apple and Samsung. Just a couple of months back, Sammy looked badly wounded, having been dealt a huge blow by a California jury that found the Korean-based company in infringement of a number of Apple patents.
There didn’t seem to be any way around the $1 billion punitive damages, although we did hope for a moment that Samsung found the clever means to yank Apple’s chain. Things became dead serious when Tim Cook’s company asked for sales bans on a number of “infringing” devices, but also for increased damages, which sent Samsung even deeper in the pit of despair.
Or did it? Well, we’re starting to think it didn’t, because Cupertino’s long string of trial wins has ended rather abruptly of late, and now it’s Samsung’s turn to collect the victories. It’s true, there’s nothing as huge as the California verdict (yet) in Sammy’s record, but the balance might be overturned soon enough if the Android king can keep it up.
The UK victory was more of an ego-building thing, not having the potential to influence the war on the long haul, but USPTO’s invalidation of a key Apple patent was definitely a big win. Now Samsung has come out on top in a Dutch battle too. Another minor triumph, but a triumph nevertheless.
The Rechtbank’s-Gravenhage, a court of first instance based in The Hague, Netherlands, has made a ruling on an Apple infringement claim against Samsung in a multi-touch patent. Sammy has therefore been found not guilty of copying the technology described in patent EP2098948, which is basically the “pinch to zoom” function that is so popular nowadays in so many smartphones and tablets.
Apple’s patent wasn’t deemed invalid by the Dutch court, but that shouldn’t worry Samsung too much, as the judge didn’t even get to that. Instead, it seemed that there was no question of infringement in the first place, so even if Apple was right to claim the patent as its own (which we’re unsure about), the copying issue was simply not there.
This is not a surprising win for Samsung (or a non-win for Apple, as Florian Mueller describes it), with the Dutch court already having been ruled preliminarily on the matter last year. Apple was also ruled against on similar claims versus both Samsung and Motorola in Mannheim, Germany and HTC in London.
Still, the iPhone makers can appeal the ruling, although they’ll probably look to abandon the fight while they’re ahead. Well, partially ahead, because Apple has to pay Samsung around €325,000 ($422,000) following The Hague’s verdict. Peanuts, compared with the $1 billion owed by Sammy, right?
“We welcome today’s ruling, which affirms our position that our products do not infringe Apple’s intellectual property. For decades, we have heavily invested in pioneering the development of technological and design innovations in the mobile industry, which have been constantly reflected in our products. We will continue to further develop and introduce products that enhance the lives of Dutch consumers.” commented Samsung in an official statement following the verdict.
Meanwhile, Apple declined to comment on the matter. The calm before the storm or resignation against a string of losses?