Posted by Greg Mills
The main Apple vs. Samsung dispute is heating up, as Apple goes for the jugular. Attorneys who think they are winning seek injunctions and file motions for summary judgment, before a trial has even been scheduled. Last year Apple filed patent infringement lawsuits against every Android handset maker alleging violation of iPhone patents.
While the Samsung case is further along than the others for some reason, the outcome of that case is critical for Apple. Heading the Android platform off at the vulnerable issue of basic touch screen user interface and other foundational issues based upon issued patents may do what Apple marketing has failed to do. Slow down the Android based erosion of the smartphone market Apple founded with iPhone.
Looking on as Apple tears into Samsung are the other Android handset manufacturers who also have been sued. If Apple can take Samsung down, the rest of the Android handset makers will know how their suits are likely to turn out. Samsung already blinked and withdrew counter suits against Apple, likely as a prelude to attempted settlement.
Most of the time, companies who sue over patent infringement do it over a demand for royalties. The losing company has to pay back royalties for previous sales of infringing products and agrees to some royalty rate for future sales under a license granted by the winning company with the patent.
I suspect Apple won’t play that game and will demand back royalties and demand that no handsets violating Apple patents be sold from the date of an injunction authorized by the court. This in effect will render millions of unsold Android phones junk. The injunction may also require basic changes in the user interface on future Android Phones.
Microsoft is working around Apple technology for a select, copy, paste touch screen gesture. Rather than touching and holding a spot you wish to copy as in iOS, they are working on circling the spot to form a lasso. Since Apple had a head start on development and the filing of patents on touch screen gestures, you can be sure they covered all the bases they could think of. What isn’t covered by an Apple patent might be pretty lame.
That is the advantage of being first to suddenly launch a new category of device, you get to claim the best parts of it as a invention with right secured by a patent. Remember, patents only give you the right to sue in Federal Court to enforce your patent. You still have to enforce your intellectual property rights, which Apple is doing right now.
Expect an Apple victory to result in the other Android handset makers attempting to settle out of court but Apple to demand they junk infringing handsets. This will certainly hurt the Android platform dramatically and make iPhone the de facto market survivor.
As Steve Jobs stated, “We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it…We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”