Analysis of Apple Lawsuit against Samsung

In the most recent court appearance over the ruling of a $1.05 billion award to Apple for copyright infringement on the part of South Korean-based Samsung, Judge Lucy Koh suggested that the companies needed to settle their differences and move on. According to the “International Business Times,” Koh stated, “I think it’s time for global peace.”

Jobs willing to wreak “thermonuclear war”

It appears that the sides are finally softening after a long and contentious series of lawsuits, in which Apple (particularly under former CEO Steve Jobs) vowed to wage “thermonuclear war” and spend all of Apple’s money defending its patents. Since the financial reckoning via the lawsuit (as well Jobs’s death and the arrival of new CEO Tim Cook), things have been taken down a notch.

Speaking to “Bloomberg Businessweek” about the ongoing Samsung litigation, Cook stated, “It is awkward. I hate litigation. I absolutely hate it. For us, this is about values. What we would like, in a perfect world, is for everyone to invent their own stuff.” For their part, Samsung has recently indicated a willingness to reach a settlement, a reversal of the November 2012 position taken by Samsung Mobile Chief JK Shin.

While Samsung is seeking a reduction in the amount awarded to Apple for patent violations on its Android products, Apple has requested an additional $500 million as well as a US ban on more than 20 Samsung products, according to the “International Business Times.”

Background to the Samsung case

What makes this past lawsuit so unusual (besides the amount awarded to Apple) is that Samsung is one of the company’s key allies in producing Apple’s signature products. Samsung supplies components such as processors and DRAM for iPhones and MacBooks, as well as other Apple workings.

However, not unlike a series of other lawsuits (against Android product manufacturers such as Barnes & Noble, HTC, Microsoft, and Motorola), the charge by Apple is that 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” according to Nilay Patel, writing in “The Verve.”

The infringement litigation centers around no less than “7 utility patents, 3 design patents, trademarks on several iOS system app icons, and a host of trade dress registrations on the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and the packaging that each comes in,” according to Patel. In particular, Apple has singled out the Touch Wiz’d Galaxy S noting that the invention is so close to Apple styling and function that one could mistake it as an Apple product.

Clearly the court has found Samsung to be in violation of a number of copyright, patent, and trademark infringements (16 in total), so much so as to garner the type of record-setting financial award to Apple that draws attention and is forcing Samsung (and others) back to the drawing board.

For its part, Apple has begun making cryptic statements about bringing Apple manufacturing back to the United States, although that would require significant time and planning. For now, however, both parties will be back in court in 2013, although it is hoped that something might be worked out in the meantime.