Will Apple & Samsung finally stop their legal battles?

May 5, 2014
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Apple vs Samsung DigitalTrends

On Friday, Apple won a $119 million jury verdict against Samsung for infringing on three of its patents. A U.S. District Court jury in San Jose, Calif., found that some Samsung devices had infringed on Apple’s patent for “quick links,” a feature that dials a phone number included in an email, and Apple’s “slide to unlock” patent, for gaining access to a device. The jury will reconvene on Monday to determine whether additional damages are necessary for Samsung’s infringement of Apple’s “auto-complete” patent, which offers suggestions about how to change or complete a word during typing.

The two companies’ previous legal face-off in this high-stakes legal battle over software features used in smartphones and devices resulted in Apple being awarded nearly $1 billion in damages two years ago. That case is under appeal and this one likely will, too.

Will the decision affect either company?

Most of the infringing products are no longer sold by Samsung therefore it is unlikely to have a significant impact on current sales of Samsung products. The verdict won’t hurt Samsung financially either as the award of $119 million in damages amounts to roughly one-quarter of 1% of Samsung’s $47.56 billion in cash.

Although Apple could try and seek an injunction to force Samsung to stop selling their infringing products, they most likely will not due to their lack of success with injunctions in the past. Federal courts have declined nearly all of Apple’s attempts to bar Samsung products, maintaining a high threshold for proving that any single patented technology influences consumer-purchasing decisions.

A ban, even if granted, will not significantly impact Samsung as it does not sell most of the devices found guilty of infringing on Apple’s patents in the US market.

Will the feud end now?

As John Fletcher, senior analyst at SNL Kagan, told USAToday, “The grudge match will continue.”

One reason for the continued anger is due to Samsung’s belief that although Google wasn’t a party to the case, Apple was trying to punish Google’s Android system through Samsung. More than 70 percent of smartphones run on Android, a mobile operating system that Google has given out for free to Samsung and other phone makers.

But, the longer that these companies argue, the more it could possibly hurt their products. According to Strategy Analytics, Apple and Samsung controlled the market two years ago, making up 55 percent of smartphone sales. Samsung’s newest smartphones, the Galaxy S4 and S5, weren’t on trial in the case. Samsung is counting on the Galaxy S5, which went on sale March 27 in South Korea, as its marquee device to maintain its global lead competing with Apple for high-end shoppers.

According to data released by research firm IDC, Samsung has already shipped 85 million smartphone units in the first quarter, more than the combined total of Samsung’s next four competitors, including Apple.

There’s no sign the legal fight will end anytime soon, with both sides expected to appeal to the highest courts in the US over the next few years. Those appeals could go all the way up to the US Supreme Court. Apple gets two-thirds of its sales from the iPhone and the iPad while Samsung has become the world’s largest maker of smartphones which make it Apple’s chief competitor.

Some experts agree though that while this was not a resounding victory for Apple, the legal battle will not stop Apple from continuing to fight against Samsung:

Susan Kohn Ross, a lawyer with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles told Bloomberg: “They’re each looking for that knockout punch and they don’t seem to be able to find it. They sort of feel they are on an even keel and need to keep punching.

This case is not going to significantly change the position of either company in relation to their competition. Even with Apple winning some battles, Samsung and Android have already cemented their territory in the mobile market and even court rulings can’t topple their position at this point. The mobile battle isn’t fought in the courtroom but rather in the consumer market.

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