This week, two tech titans will clash once again in court. Samsung will fight claims it owes Apple approximately $2 billion in damages, while the Cupertino giant will argue the Galaxy manufacturer copied some of Apple’s patented features to make its products.
“Samsung…has systematically copied Apple’s innovative technology and products, features and designs, and has deluged markets with infringing devices (at least eighteen new infringing products in just the last eight months), all in an effort to usurp market share from Apple using Apple’s own popular and patented technology,” a preliminary statement from a document filed in February of 2012.
The U.S. and South Korean corporations stand at daggers drawn. Both have contended one infringed on patents established by the other. The case involves newer devices — such as the iPhone 5 — and their characteristics, some of which are now embedded in the Android operating platform. And as a result of the involvement of Android in the case, Google, while not a defendant in the trial, will become embroiled in the litigation to a greater extent than before.
The case, which began on March 31, revolves around Apple patents, including those dealing with elements like unified search and word recommendations. CNET reports two Samsung patents are also in play, which concern a means for recording and duplicating digital speech and images, and a video communication system. Reports have Samsung asking for $7 million in damages and Apple seeking $40 per device for the five patents considered.
Precedent weighs against Samsung, which has been ordered in the past to pay nearly $1 billion in damages to the iPhone maker, writes Florian Mueller, author of the FOSS Patents blog. Now, the Korean company could bank on more people like Mueller calling Apple’s remuneration expectations outsized. “Forty dollars per unit. For five software patents,” he writes. “Give me a break. Reality distortion would be a total understatement for this.”
More than money, brand and business are at stake in this trial. So far, Apple has not succeeded in stopping Samsung from selling devices that have infringed on its patents. Such a measure might have provided Apple a bump in global market share, as it currently trails behind the South Korean company. In 2013, Samsung’s stake in the smartphone industry worldwide was more than double that of Apple’s, 31.3 percent to 15.3 percent, according to IDC. And 42.3 percent of mobile devices forecasted to ship in 2014 run on Android, versus the 14.2 percent that operate using Apple’s systems, iOS and MacOS, says Gartner.
In 2013, Samsung’s revenues for its Information technology and Mobile communications segment came to 138.8 trillion KRW ($130.3 billion). Strategy Analytics said the Korean behemoth shifted almost 320 million smartphones in 2013. Meanwhile, that same year, Apple reported selling more than 150 million iPhones, which drove revenues of $91.3 billion. The company’s iPad sales cleared 71 million units and generated $32.0 billion in revenue.
Apple may have won early battles against Samsung in court, but neither side has won the patent war just yet. And if history has anything insight to offer, no company will triumph completely, leaving the two tech giants scrambling in the legal trenches for a while longer.