Are Apple’s Patent Lawsuits Dead Right?

I have often referred to patents between large tech firms as mutually assured destruction as any of these companies can sue others with a slew of patent infringements at once, counting on a few to be upheld by a court. And this is what happened with Apple and Samsung where the Korean phone maker and tech giant was found to have willfully copied Apple’s trade dress meaning the look and feel of the device – among other things like pinching to zoom.

Jason Perlow at ZDnet points us to a good video from Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, on the topic of patents and trademarks in the food industry. It is boring but useful if you want to learn more.

Samsung just lost big, really big to Apple and already there are many people reconsidering their Android purchases based on a survey I have seen as well as what I’ve learned speaking to people in the market for phones.

Let’s just say Samsung is very angry – not just because of the $1,049,343,540 in damages the company owes Apple. To make the situation even worse for Samsung, Judge Lucy Koh on Tuesday scheduled a hearing for Dec. 6 at 1:30 p.m. to consider Apple’s request to ban the eight devices: the Galaxy S 4G, two versions of the Galaxy S II, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Droid Charge, and the Galaxy Prevail.

Samsung thinks patent law has been manipulated to give one company – Apple a monopoly on a rectangular shape with rounded corners.

It would seem all is well in Apple-land except for the fact that Samsung is a monster in terms of consumer electronics making everything from semiconductors to screens, TVs and computers. They make lots of components for Apple in-fact. We can likely expect this relationship to continue coming to an end over time but more importantly, Samsung will likely come out swinging hard, very hard.

Apple has just angered a real giant.

What we know so far is officials said Samsung has been preparing “all measures for all scenarios” to fight Apple in 50 patent disputes in 10 different countries. Moreover, the Korean giant says it will sue Apple immediately if it releases LTE devices – exactly what we might expect to see in a new iPhone rumored to be announced in a few weeks.

It is common knowledge that Apple popularized the music player the touchscreen smartphone and tablet. Microsoft, Nokia and others have attempted to play in these spaces before Apple and have failed miserably.

Moreover it is absolutely accurate that Eric Schmidt used his board position at Apple to see the future of Apple products and subsequently launch Android and the OHS. Apple deserves to be upset because they are being copied and Schmidt’s behavior is more or less corporate espionage in the worst case and immoral at best.

But mutually assured destruction is what it is.

There is a real risk the tech space will now be more concerned about legal issues than about innovation going forward. Moreover, the smaller companies will have an incredible advantage if they fly under the radar long enough to come up with new and innovative technologies while the large companies devote considerable resources to legal pursuits.

None of this is good for tech innovation… There is the expression “being dead right” which comes to mind.

To learn more about tech and telecom patents be sure to attend the SUITS tech patent and copyright conference in Austin Texas, October 2-5, 2012 – collocated with ITEXPO.


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