The Patent War between Samsung and Apple Intensifies

by Yuyutsu Sen on October 18, 2011

The global patent battle between South Korea based Samsung and California based consumer electronics giant Apple is getting increasingly hostile. Presently Samsung is trying to ban the sale of iPhone 4S in Australian and Japan. The intellectual property battle that started in April now involves over 20 lawsuits and spans across 10 nations including Germany, Italy and France.

Samsung’s Galaxy tab is the hottest rival for Apple’s iPad, which is currently dominating table markets across the world. Last week Apple seemed to be having an upper hand in the intellectual property battle. The electronics conglomerate managed to temporarily bar the sale of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia by winning an injunction in one of the country’s federal courts. Previously Samsung’s settlement offer has been rejected by Apple.

Unless Samsung opts for the highly risky expedited hearing option, it is likely to be several months before the lawsuit is resolved. Loss in expedited hearing can permanently prohibit the release of Galaxy tablet in the Australian market. The ruling in Australia follows the pro-Apple verdicts given earlier by the courts in Holland and Germany.

The ban further strengthens Apple’s position in the global tablet market. Although a blow for Samsung, the small size of Australian market makes the defeat slightly less worrisome. But if Apple is successful in its attempts to bar the sale of Galaxy products in the US market, it will be a huge blow for the South Korean company. During the recent court proceedings, Apple seemed close to winning an injunction against Samsung’s Galaxy Tabs and Galaxy S4G smartphones in the US as well.

While Apple claims that the Korean company’s smartphones and tablet computers are a copy of iPhone and iPad, the later argues that the US consumer electronics manufacturer is taking advantage of its technology. According to Samsung, the mobile devices produced by Apple go against its wireless communication patents. The company has requested preliminary orders from a federal court in Australia and district court in Tokyo against iPhone 4S. It’s hardly been a week since the release of the latest edition in the iPhone series. Samsung is also seeking a ban on the sale of iPad 2 and iPhone 4 from another Japanese court.

In spite of the legal battles between the two conglomerates, they have a symbiotic relationship. The Korean company is a processing chips supplier for Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Major changes in supply chain model are likely to disrupt its production process. Moreover, Apple also needs Samsung’s superior AMOLED screens. The California based company’s main aim seems to be to force Samsung to design devices around its defended patents. Contesting seems to be the best way for the Korean company to remind Apple that it can serve as well as compete as it has been doing previously with Dell, Sony, Nokia and HP.

The battle between Samsung and Apple highlights the ambiguous nature of intellectual property in cell phone communications sector. With a number of companies holding numerous patents that may overlap, there seems to be no clear-cut solution for the issue at present.

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Written by: Yuyutsu Sen.

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