Kicking off in Silicon Valley right now is the biggest patent court case ever seen. Apple is suing Samsung for $2.5bn and if they win this will be the largest ever patent pay out – the chances of this actually happening though, are pretty slim.
Although there is no technical definition of a smartphone this all comes down to who thinks they’re entitled to make the most money; Apple because they ‘got there first’ or Samsung because they ‘own the standard essential patents’ which Apple is refusing to pay to use on the ground Samsung are charging unreasonable rates.
Basically – who copied whose homework!
A Quick History Lesson
In the past four years the number of worldwide smart phone users has doubled and although the phrase was first used in relation to a mobile phone by Ericsson back in 1997, the smart phone as we think of it today really exploded with the launch of the first iPhone back in 2007. The Tablet market follows a similar pattern, yes tablets have been around for a while but the market really took off in 2010 with the launch of the iPad.
Over the last few years other technology manufacturers and software developers have jumped on this bandwagon and launched their own versions of the products now that they’re very much in demand.
Well that’s the theory anyway, Apple are adamant that everyone has simply copied their original designs and their original technology and quirky bits rather than actually developing their own versions. At the end of the day Apple are convinced they not only own the rights to any technology jumping on the tablet and smart phone bandwagon, they own the bandwagon too – it’s just a shame they couldn’t quite patent the design for the wheel!
To be fair Apple has been taking any tech company they can get their hands on to court and have been chasing legal battles all over the world. Their main defense for seeking such a huge amount in damages is because they believe they’ve been robbed of market share that’s rightfully theirs and its Samsung that’s been doing the most of the market share grabbing so it’s Samsung who’s at the focus of their legal battles.
Apple currently own around 19% of the smart phone market while Samsung are claiming around 30% – between them they just about account for half of all smart phone sales around the world.
Who’s Done What?
The specific details are very complicated, both sides have filled or own thousands of patents and the patent system itself has come under scrutiny throughout some of these legal cases. Very simplified:
Apple claim Samsung stole the look and design from their iPhone and used it for their Galaxy series (S, SII & SIII), although the thought of a company being able to copy right a rectangle shape with curved edges might seem a little silly to some.
Apple also claim Samsung has stolen certain features like their tab to zoom function and that little bounce back pages do once they’ve reached the bottom.
Before he died Steve Jobs was famously quoted as saying “I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40bn to right this wrong…I’m going to destroy Android” – Yep Apple also have beef with Google’s Android operating system too.
Samsung have lots of clever comebacks to all these comments which we’re all bound to here as this case progresses but for now it’s certainly shaping up to be a very interesting fight.