The heavyweights meet for another round
Samsung has filed a new lawsuit against Apple, claiming its flagship iPhone 5 uses eight patents developed by the South Korean company, without a licence.
However, the new lawsuit will not feature patents related to 4G Long Tem Evolution (LTE) wireless technology, something Samsung was talking about in September.
The case follows a defeat for Samsung in August, which saw it being ordered to pay Apple $1.05 billion (£664m) for “wilful” patent infringement.
Meanwhile, the same court has lifted a sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, imposed in June.
It’s not over till it’s over…
In August, after a three-week trial and three days of jury deliberations, a US court in San Jose,California, ruled that Samsung had infringed six patents and ordered it to pay Apple $1.05 billion (£664m). Apple later requested an additional $707 million (£436m), to compensate for “damage to the iPhone’s distinctive product identity”.
Now, Samsung, the world’s largest mobile phone seller, has counter-attacked in the same court with claims that the iPhone 5 infringes two of its standard essential patents and six feature patents. According to Bloomberg, the South Korean manufacturer had begun the investigation of the iPhone 5 as soon as it was available for purchase.
“We have always preferred to compete in the marketplace with our innovative products, rather than in courtrooms. However, Apple continues to take aggressive legal measures that will limit market competition. Under these circumstances, we have little choice but to take the steps necessary to protect our innovations and intellectual property rights,” the company said in a statement.
A person close to the matter told Financial Times that Samsung could even push for a sales ban.
At the same time, US District Judge Lucy Koh has lifted the preliminary injunction on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, after jurors concluded that the tablet didn’t infringe Apple’s design patent. In addition to removing the sales ban, the Judge retained the $2.6 million (£1.6m) bond Apple posted as a condition of obtaining the injunction.
The case brought by Samsung is expected to go to trial next year. It will involve a total of eight patents, which Samsung said were infringed by the iPhone 5 and earlier models of the iPhone, iPad and iPod.
In August, Apple had already added the Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S III smartphone to the list of products that it claimed illegally used its patents. At a hearing scheduled for December, Judge Koh will look both at Apple’s request for a sales ban on eight Samsung products, and Samsung’s request for a retrial, based on claims of juror misconduct.
The new wave of patent infringement claims is likely to once again test the relationship between Apple and Samsung – the latter being the biggest supplier of components for the iPhone range. The two companies are currently locked in court battles in ten countries across four continents.
Judge Richard Posner, the man who single-handedly threw out Apple’s patent case against Motorola, recently criticised the US patent system, calling it “excessive”.
According to Posner, the current system distorts prices, wastes resources and time of the Patent and Trademark Office, and encourages the filing of defensive patents. But by far the biggest problem are the patent “trolls” who “buy up large numbers of patents for the sole purpose of extracting licensee fees by threat of suit, and if necessary sue, for infringement”.
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