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Apple v. Samsung – Patent Wars

Whenever we buy or use a smartphone, many of us ignore the fact that lot of research worth millions of dollars has gone behind creating such a smart device, that too for a span of many years. The only legitimate way available to such technology corporations for protecting their research work is to file for intellectual property right protection, by way of utility patents, design patents, trademarks, trade dress, copyrights, and the like, depending on the types of rights available in a particular jurisdiction.

Generally, it is a myth that because of software patents, any company could be sued for almost anything. However, the reality is that software patents play an important role in encouraging innovation.

And when such intellectual property rights are infringed, it results in multiple lawsuits. One such lawsuit that has been going around since 2011 is Apple vs. Samsung. The entire complaint filed by Apple may be accessed by clicking here.

The beginning of this lawsuit may be traced back to June 2010, as according to an Australian affidavit from Apple’s global legal counsel Richard Lutton, chief executive Steve Jobs warned Samsung about potential litigation in Jun 2010, shortly after the release of the first Galaxy phones by Samsung.

Subsequently, in April 2011, Apple filed a suit in a US court against Samsung, claiming the South Korean manufacturer “slavishly copied” Apple’s design for its Galaxy phones. This suit was just the beginning of many others which were, and are still being replicated and counter-claimed across the world for multiple devices.

On a separate note, interestingly, Apple settled its two year old patent battle with Nokia in June 2011, and Apple agreed to pay on-going royalties to Nokia and license its patents.

Of many claims made by Apple in aforesaid complaint, Apple claimed that Samsung’s Galaxy phones embodies a combination of several elements of the Apple Product Configuration Trade Dress namely, a product configuration with:

  • a rectangular product shape with all four corners uniformly rounded;
  • the front surface of the product dominated by a screen surface with black borders;
  • substantial black borders above and below the screen having roughly equal width and narrower black borders on either side of the screen having roughly equal width;
  • a metallic surround framing the perimeter of the top surface;
  • a display of a grid of colorful square icons with uniformly rounded corners; and
  • a bottom row of icons set off from the other icons and that do not change as the other pages of the user interface are viewed.

Apple further claimed that Samsung also imitated Apple’s Product Packaging Trade Dress. Apple claimed that in addition to copying Apple’s Product Trade Dress, Samsung has also copied numerous application icons in which Apple had valid trademark rights, as shown herein.

Infringement of Patents: Apple claimed that Samsung’s infringement of the Apple utility patents provided Samsung with unique functionality for its products that was the result of Apple’s innovation, and not Samsung’s.

For example, Apple’s Patent 7,669,134 titled Method and Apparatus For Displaying Information During An Instant Messaging Session mainly covers the iChat and iOS cartoon-bubble chat interface as arranging incoming messages in a communications session in a timeline that’s horizontally spaced. Apple claims Samsung has infringed this patent and from the looks of it, that’s pretty much similar to Samsung’s TouchWiz chat interface.

In future posts, we will provide a further analysis of Apple vs Samsung and other lawsuits related to Smartphones & Mobile Apps across different parts of the world. Do follow us on twitter for more such updates.

To know more about us, mail us at rd (at) patentbusinesslawyer (dot) com.

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