Apple, which won a victory in the first round of U.S. patent lawsuits against Samsung Electronics, particularly over the latter’ s infringement on design patents, has been strengthening its patent litigation offensive.
Apple filed with a federal court in California on Aug. 31 another patent lawsuit against Samsung Electronics’ mainstay smartphone Galaxy S3 and its two other popular models, this time primarily over the latter’ s infringement on its functionality and technology patents. Also included in the latest lawsuit are Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note 20.1, released last month.
A jury in the District Court for the North District of California ruled on Aug. 24 that Samsung infringed on Apple’ s design and technology patents, awarding a $1 billion damages award. The jury decision came in a lawsuit Apple filed in April 2010. Apple filed the latest patent lawsuit in addition to its suit against Samsung filed this past February.
Apple’ s latest patent offensive is targeted at Samsung’ s mainstay smartpones that are now enjoying popularity in the market, compared to its previous patent litigation against Samsung’ s Galaxy S1, Galaxy S2, and others, which are older, unpopular models.
The latest patent lawsuit involves Apple’ s claims of eight proprietary functions and technologies, including an integrated search function.
Industry analysts said Apple’ s latest patent lawsuit will be unlikely to deliver an immediate, direct blow to Samsung such as a ban on the sales of the related products since the ruling is expected to be decided in the second half of next year when chances are high that Samsung will come up with replacements to the Galaxy S3.
As to the background behind Apple’ s additional lawsuit, industry analysts said Apple would continue its schoolyard bully strategy aimed at strengthening its dominance over the global market and tarnishing Samsung’ s brand image.
By contrast, Apple suffered a setback as a Japanese judge ruled that Samsung Electronics’ smartphones and a tablet computer didn’ t infringe on an Apple invention for synchronizing music and video data with servers, becoming one of Samsung’ s small victories in lawsuits brought on by Apple in countries other than the United States.
The U.S. jury decision in favor of Apple has already touched a stream of criticisms and controversies over the U.S. jury system involving jurors with no knowledge of the ICT field and a focus on trade dress, allowing barriers against what are solutions to problems, not inventions. The jury came under criticism that they did not discuss the prior art issue in which similar functions and designs had already predated Apple’ s. A controversy over the qualification of the chief of the jurors mounted when it was revealed that he himself was found to own a proprietary mobile patent.
Patent lawyer Lee Chang-hoon of the Korean patent law firm Aju Kim Chang & Lee was quoted as saying that Apple’ s latest lawsuit was the American smartphone maker’ s attempt to maintain its hegemony after the jury decision.
Samsung Electronics’ sale of the Galaxy S3 has reportedly received a boost even after the jury decision. The Korean electronics maker has raised its sales of the Galaxy S3 through the five U.S. telecom providers since early August. Samsung Electronics saw its share in the North American smartphone market rise from 20.2 percent in the fourth quarter of last year to 23.4 percent in the second quarter of this year. The figure is forecast to jump to the 30 percent range in the near future riding on the popularity of the Galaxy S3.
Samsung Electronics officials said the Korean electronics company will continue to take legal countermeasures against Apple’ s patent offensive, lest Apple should hinder with consumers’ opting for Samsung Electronics’ products.
Samsung Electronics has come up with strategies to work around the patents in the U.S. jury decision and release its products using its own inventions and ideas in the mid- and long-term perspective, according to reports.
A patent to work around one of the patents in question, the “tap-to-zoom” feature in which the user can touch the screen to enlarge an image, has been obtained and registered in Korea. The workaround patent involves the drawing a circle clockwise and counterclockwise to zoom in and out, respectively, instead of Apple’ s tap-to-zoom.
Samsung Electronics became the first company to unveil a smartphone model using Microsoft’ s latest mobile software, Windows 8, prior to the anticipated launch of Nokia’ s model. The Korean handset maker announced the release of Samsung ATIV S and Samsung ATIV Tab, based on the latest Microsoft software as part of its strategies to diversify its smartphone product portfolio following the U.S. jury decision in favor of Apple. Apple has staged a patent war against hardware makers, including Samsung Electronics, using Google’ s mobile software Android. U.S. media outlets called the Apple vs. Samsung litigation a proxy war by Samsung for Google, seeking to become the ruler of the software field with open-source strategies, as Microsoft does in the hardware sector.
Some industry analysts said Samsung Electronics is predicted to surpass Apple in a long-term patent war based on the former’ s supremacy over the new 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies, which boast a speed five times as fast as the 3G telecommunications infrastructure. Samsung takes the lead in the list of LTE essential patents and owns its own non-essential patents in the latest telecommunications field, leading to its competitive edge over Apple, industry sources said. It represents a contrast with the U.S. jury, which turned down Samsung’ s claims of Apple’ s infringements on essential patents, they said.