Patent News | "Apple, Samsung and the patent circus"


Like sands of an hourglass, these are the days of … ridiculous patent lawsuits.
With ridiculous patent lawsuits you get ridiculous trials and when those trials involve multi-billion dollar empires striving for dominance in the mobile arena, the results are, well, ridiculous.

Anybody following the patent trial between Apple against Samsung that began in a California federal court this week knows what I am talking about.

These are the two biggest players in the smartphone and tablet ecosystem and their war over patents has spanned the globe with battles taking place in the likes of Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. All the trials between Apple and Samsung were but a prelude to this showdown. And it is a freaking circus.

Like any war, there are no innocent parties. Apple is guilty for its relentless pursuit to cripple its competition (more or less the entire Android ecosystem). Samsung is guilty for its over-the-top shotgun approach to the mobile market, its devious courtroom antics and,  perhaps, even copying Apple’s product designs.

The blow-by-blow of the Apple vs. Samsung patent dispute makes for some interesting theater. Last week, Samsung had evidence rejected by the court showing it had a touchscreen smartphone in the works before Apple announced the iPhone in January 2007.

The court rejected the evidence because of rules about improper discovery (where each sides present evidence to each other before and during a trial). It was a legal sting to Samsung’s case but the company’s lawyers were not going to take that laying down.

If Samsung could not bring the evidence to the court, it attempted to do the next best thing. It went to the media. It sent the rejected evidence to media outlets like The Verge and Reuters.

These companies likely did not ask for the rejected evidence, but Samsung made sure they had it anyway. Apple, as it is wont to do in these scenarios, threw a complete hissy fit. The iPad manufacturer tried to get the court to issue a summary judgment and grant all of Apple’s wishes (including barring certain Samsung devices and at least $2.52 billion in damages). If Samsung’s leak to the media was an outrageous act, Apple’s response was equally unrealistic.

And the circus continued like that as the case wore on all week. Samsung tried to introduce evidence that Apple copied Sony’s mobile designs or even the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey among a variety of other tactics.

Whatever Samsung could do to show that Apple’s iPhone and iPad designs were not completely original, it tried to present to the court. If Samsung were a caricature, it would be a short, sneaky balding man with too much oil in its hair and a bad comb-over. Apple would be an indignant prude, its back stiffened to every hint of impropriety, like a character from a Jane Austen novel.

What is the point of it all? Apple is trying to prove that Samsung willfully copied its iPhone and iPad designs to trick users into thinking they were buying an Apple product. Samsung is trying to paint Apple as a greedy and anti-competitive.

If Apple wins, it will get several billions dollars from Samsung and the South Korean manufacturer will have to substantially change its product designs which could limit it from bringing new products to market as quickly as it is accustomed.

In the end though, nothing will change. As long as Samsung remains Apple top competitor, there will always be another patent lawsuit right around the corner.

And the ridiculous circle of patent lawsuits will continue without end. And that helps nobody. Not Apple, not Samsung. Certainly not businesses or consumers.