When in Doubt, Just Sue: The Apple v. Samsung Story Timeline
Last month, the all time epic patent battle between Apple and Samsung was decided. Apple was declared victorious over Samsung and received an award of $1.05 billion in damages for Samsung’s patent infringements. But when did this battle start? How big was this battle? And is it truly over? For those following this story closely, they know that this battle raged on for over a year, spanned several continents, and is far from over. For anyone trying to follow the story, here is a slimmed down version of what has been happening.
In general, major mobile tech companies have been suing each other over patent infringement for quite some time now. Apple has sued many companies, like HTC and Motorola, across the globe over patents such as “slide to lock,” long before the major Apple v. Samsung case got underway.
Within the United States of America, the Apple v. Samsung case began in April 2011, when Apple originally sued Samsung for “slavishly” copying the designs of its iPad. Samsung fought back by counter-suing Apple for infringing a number of its 3G patents. Both companies then began filing lawsuits against each other across the globe.
The Apple v. Samsung lawsuit stretched as far as Australia, where Apple was able to get an indefinite hold put on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet before its scheduled launch within that region. Apple claimed that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringed upon the design of Apple’s iPad. This temporary ban was, however, lifted later in November that same year.
Apple did not stop there. In the meantime, Apple also won a preliminary injunction against the sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 throughout the European Union (EU) in a German court. The ruling, however, was lifted from having any effect throughout the EU, except for in Germany, because Samsung was able to prove in an emergency complaint that the German court overstepped their boundaries.
The next month, another one of Samsung’s products, the Galaxy Tab 7.7, also fell victim to the German courts after Apple was able to secure an injunction against the device. This also sequentially disallowed the device to be showcased at “one of the worlds largest technology shows in Berlin, the IFA electronics show.” The Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court in Germany later expanded this ban throughout the EU in July 2012.
Back in Australia, Samsung set about filing a counter suite against Apple for infringements of seven of its patents related to its 3G networking technology. Samsung’s 3G technologies are considered to be “standards-essential patents.” In other words, they are patents that are required for 3G to work and therefore Samsung must license them under reasonable, non-discriminatory and fair measures (FRAND terms). Apple, however, claimed that Samsung was being unreasonable.
At this point, Apple was not having much luck with Samsung. After losing a request to block certain 4G enabled products and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 back in December, Samsung was now allegedly not complying with a court order to supply Apple with the source codes and devices of the products that were suspected of infringing Apple’s patents. According to Apple, Samsung has only provided source code for one of its products.
Before a trial date could be set, Apple and Samsung were ordered to talk and attempt to arrive at a settlement rather than to battle it out by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh.
In response to an earlier court ruling not to ban the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit held that the lower court was “incorrect in thinking that one [of] Apple[’s] patent[s] related to the iPad may be invalid,” meaning that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 could potentially be infringing on a iPad’s design patent and a ban could be imposed. The court also stated “a sales ban should be imposed until a trial can be held.”
Unsurprisingly, the court ordered talks between the two companies failed and the trial date was set for July 30.
Following the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, Judge Lucy Koh granted a preliminary sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the United States. This decision does not affect other Samsung products, such as Galaxy Tab II 10.1, a successor to the original Galaxy Tab 10.1. Judge Koh initially refused this injunction back in December 2011.
In the United Kingdom, a UK judge ruled that Samsung’s Galaxy tablet 10.1 did not infringe upon the iPad’s design. The court held that although the two products are similar, the overall impression they leave on the consumer is different. The court said that Samsung tablets, as compared to iPads, are—quiet simply—“not as cool.”
Meanwhile, in the Korea, the court found that everyone was guilty of infringing each other’s patents. Apple was found to be in violation of two patents and was ordered to pay $17,650 in damages for each violated patent and banned the sale of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2. Samsung was ordered to pay $22,000 and banned the sale of the Galaxy S, Galaxy SII, Galaxy Nexus phones, and Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.
In the U.S., however, Apple clearly won against Samsung. A jury found that Samsung had infringed six (five of which were infringed willfully) of seven Apple patents and that Apple had not infringed any of Samsung’s patents. The Jury further reward Apple with about $1.05 billion in damages, less than the requested $2.5 billion, but still a significant amount.
Although Samsung lost in the U.S., in Germany Samsung was found to not be in violation of Apple’s touch screen technology patents.
That same month, Samsung asked the U.S. Court to lift the ban of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 because it was found to not be infringing Apple’s design patents. The judge, however, refused the lift because an appeal of her order was before the U.S. Court of Appeals, which means she did not have jurisdiction over the matter. She said, however, that she might dissolve the ban if it was under her power.
What happens next?
The final phase of this case is set to be decided on December 6 by Judge Lucy Koh. On that date, Judge Koh will deliver the final judgment, which includes the amount of damages and which devices will receive an injunction.
In a motion for final judgment, Apple has asked the court for an additional damages reward of $707 million ($535 million for willful infringement and $135 million in supplemental damages) and to permanently ban the sale of 26 Samsung products from sale within the US. The ban includes mostly older devices that are no longer available. In addition, however, the injunction request also includes “any other product with a feature or features not more than colorably different from any of the infringing feature or features in any of the Infringing Products [sic].” In other words, Apple also wants to ban the sale of any Samsung product that has features similar to those that have been found to be infringing Apple’s patents. This could be problematic for Samsung because although it does not specifically name its current flagship smart phone, the Galaxy S3, under the sales ban, this board request for an injunction may encompass the S3.
Unsurprisingly, Samsung has also filed a motion requesting that damages be lowered (possibly to $35 million) and a request for a new trial. Samsung says that if it loses the requests, it plans on appealing the decision to the court of appeals. Furthermore, Samsung says that it plans to amend its claim of infringement to include the iPhone 5, which has booked over 2 million pre-orders before its initial release.
If Samsung is forced to pay out and the ban on its products does go into affect, it should not do too much harm to Samsung because most of the products on Apple’s hit list are old products that Samsung no longer manufactures and has released successors to. However, that story may change if a ban on its popular Samsung S3 is imposed. So far, as of the second quarter of 2012, Samsung is the world’s top phone manufacturer, “shipping more than 50 million phones, nearly double the Apple’s 26 million iPhone shipments,” thus showing that Samsung will not be obliterated by this ruling.
The Apple v. Samsung story does end here because the two giants have another case filed in the same court governing their most recent products, which is scheduled for March 2014.
For a more in-depth analysis of the Apple v. Samsung timeline check out Charlie Osborne’s article: Apple v. Samsung timeline: The guide to what’s happening.