Writing about the world of smartphone technology, it often feels as if there’s a random lawsuit generator at work. This week it’s thrown up “Apple” sues “Samsung” over intellectual property violation.
This isn’t a minor alleged infringement though: Apple is claiming violation of 10 patents, six trademarks and three “trade dress rights.” The cases all involve the Samsung Galaxy phone and tablet devices, the claim being that they rip off the iPhone and iPad.
Introducing the lawsuit, Apple says, “Instead of pursuing independent product development, Samsung has chosen to slavishly copy Apple’s innovative technology, distinctive user interfaces, and elegant and distinctive product and packaging design, in violation of Apple’s valuable intellectual property rights”
Seven of the patents involve either the way the devices are physically put together, or the software used for on-screen features such as scrolling or displaying instant messaging adverts. The rest of the claim all involve the physical appearance of the device, on-screen icons and even packaging.
In response, Samsung has flat out said it will “respond actively to this legal action taken against us through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property.” In other words, look for Samsung to sue Apple over anything it can come up with.
It should prove an interesting case for the entire industry: it’s hardly a secret that plenty of manufacturers have tried to ape the iPad and iPhone as much as possible (while keeping costs low), but it’s hard to imagine Samsung will have been dumb enough to carry out blatant infringement. There’s already speculation that Apple is trying to give the message that if it will go after a giant like Samsung, then the blatant knock-off merchants should live in fear.
Given both companies have deep pockets, my guess is that once Samsung has come up with it’s counter-claims, it’ll be a case of chucking out the more speculative claims and seeing what’s left over. If the slam-dunk claims are anywhere close to even on both sides, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the two sides beat a retreat rather than get bogged down in an expensive stalemate.