Apple v. Samsung: What’s Being Said (Fall-out could be monumental)

Reports of a last ditch effort to settle out of court have once again resurfaced. Bloomberg today reported that private phone conversations between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Kwon Oh Hyun have taken place.

Evidence Image: Comparing Samsung tablets and Apple's iPad.

In Summary
  • Closing arguments in the Apple/Samsung patent case are expected to take place Tuesday. Apple is seeking $2.75 billion, while Samsung has countersued for $421 million in damages related to patent infringements.
  • Many are debating industry impact. A Samsung win, some say, could result in stifling of innovation, and a non-stop parade of iPhone clones for years to come.
  • One law professor says, "Simply being inspired by Apple’s products is not illegal."
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Evidence Image: Comparing Samsung tablets and Apple’s iPad.

The jury in the Apple v. Samsung patent suit here in San Jose is expected to head into deliberation this week, after both sides present closing arguments on Tuesday.

Many are debating the potential fall-out from the verdict, and its potential impact on the smartphone and tablet industry going forward – above and beyond just the sales of Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices. One thing that’s certain: it’s a landmark case.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s happening, and what to expect next.

The Case

Apple: seeking $2.75 billion in damages from Samsung, for copying patented features from the iPad and iPhone.

Samsung: asking $421 million in a countersuit against Apple.

Smoking Gun?

Apple: a 132-page internal Samsung document that compares the features and design of an iPhone side-by-side with the Galaxy S.

Samsung: an early tablet prototype, pre-dating the iPad, that illustrates certain features such as large touch screens, and rounded corners already existed.

What’s Being Said:

New York Times

“Simply being inspired by Apple’s products is not illegal, said Jorge Contreras, an associate professor of law at American University. He says that Apple’s claims of Samsung infringement on its design patents, a class of inventions related to the exterior look of the iPhone and iPad, are weaker than its arguments for its “utility patents” in the case, which protect various software functions.”


Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff wrote a terrific piece on the case:

“We stand on the shoulders of giants. What we say, do, write and create is always influenced by those that came before us. No action happens in a vacuum. Medical, scientific and technological breakthroughs start with the raw materials of someone else’s work. We call this progress.

The patent system seems to call this theft. The truth may be somewhere in the middle. Let’s hope innovation doesn’t get squeezed as the judicial system tries to work this out.”

San Jose Mercury News

Portrays the case as a “hero and villain” choice”

“Legal experts say Apple’s simpler arguments, coupled with the mystique of its products, may give it an advantage, but much depends upon the amount of credibility the jury assigns to Samsung’s counter-arguments.

Mark Lemley, a Stanford University law professor, observed that ‘Apple’s case is easier to understand — it’s less technical and has a good-guy, bad-guy story.'”

“Apple has a considerable advantage because of the high-profile nature of the iPads and iPhones and the ‘proof’ of their innovativeness that follows from their popularity,” she said. “I’d be surprised if they (the jury) choose not to support the value of Apple’s work.”

NYT Bits Blog

Suggests the impact could be wide, and felt far beyond the two companies.

“If Apple prevails, experts believe Samsung and other rivals in the market would have a much stronger incentive to distinguish their smartphone and tablet products with unique features and designs to avoid further legal tangles…

And if the jury finds in favor of Samsung, its decision could have the opposite effect, creating a consensus around Apple-like designs for years to come. ‘Expect to see an awful lot of Apple knockoffs without fear of retribution,’ said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner, the technology research firm.”

The Wildcard

Reports of a last ditch effort to settle out of court have once again resurfaced. Bloomberg today reported that private phone conversations between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Kwon Oh Hyun have taken place.

From Courtroom to Big Screen?

As of yet, no word yet on who will direct the Hollywood adaptation. Expect a vampire twist of some sort, and shameless merchandise tie-ins involving the mars rover, and Big Jim.

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