Feature Article

August 03, 2012

Apple and Samsung - How Did They Do This Week, Legally Speaking?

Those among us who aren’t mobile insiders or who don’t otherwise care about such things as where mobile device parts come from or even what parts mobile devices are actually made of – which represents most of the civilized mobile world, may not know that Samsung supplies Apple with a lot of internal mobile parts including mobile processors.

The inter-relationships between hardware OEMs and their suppliers is often a very interesting one for those of us who pay attention to these sorts of things. But we are beginning to wonder of the current extremely high profile patent infringement case Apple and Samsung are now waging may begin to bring such esoteric industry relationships (esoteric in the sense that the general public would otherwise not even know about them) out into the open for a far larger audience. We know there are at least 16 folks who probably didn’t know that do now and at least 12 of them will be rendering a verdict in the lawsuit.

Would it make a difference to anyone’s likely future buying habits to know of these relationships? Probably not, but we do wonder. In any case, it has crossed our minds about how it may affect the buying patterns of the jurors.

We also might wonder what Apple and Samsung will ultimately think of each other as parts partners once all the dust settles. Not that it will settle any time in the foreseeable future. Whoever loses the case will appeal…should any appeals reverse anything there will be more appeals. In several years Apple’s and Samsung’s products will likely have diverged so much no one will care including Samsung and Apple, who will remain parts partners. Aside from some interface issues, can anyone claim that the iPhone, the imagined next version of the iPhone or the Galaxy S III bear any real resemblances at this point?

The Lawsuit so Far

So then…the lawsuit. It certainly has treated us to some interesting things. It was certainly a great deal of fun hearing from the Apple “guerilla” design team – and in seeing the many sketches and photos of what the iPhone and iPad might have ended up looking like. Ina Fried over at the Wall Street Journal provides a good slide show. The photo shown below is a good example of those early iPhone design attempts. It has certainly been interesting to watch Samsung constantly try to sneak evidence into the case that it has either already been denied the ability to do, and to use the press to put out suppressed evidence such as the photos of several Sony devices that do in fact look similar to the original iPhone and iPad.

The point here has been to show that Apple's patents are obvious in light of Sony prior art and leave the Apple patents invalid, but this issue (and theory on Samsung’s part) has already excluded from the case by both the current judge and a previous judge. Samsung had an expert argue that some of Apple's design patents were obvious over the designs of two specific Sony products, the Sony Ericsson W950 Walkman Phone (shown below – we don’t see the resemblance) and the Sony K800i phone. The judge’s conclusion on including such evidence? Denied.

Even better has been Samsung trying to enter into evidence shots of a device from 2001: A Space Odyssey and others from the TV show Tomorrow People (!) – which Samsung claims prove Apple has been copying existing devices in much the same way Apple is claiming Samsung did. The judge’s conclusion? Denied.

It has been fun watching Samsung get chastised in court by Judge Lucy Koh. And then watch as Samsung continues to try and tweak Apple with more theatrics. The latest centers Samsung is working to admit into evidence are what Apple considers to be the most sensitive competitive information possible – actual sales figures and a collection of reader surveys on its products (which includes the iPod). It all has a real “My Cousin Vinny” spin to it. As we write, Judge Koh has decided to let Samsung admit the Apple readership survey into evidence, so Samsung has at least rung one up for itself this week.

Wrapping up this first week, Apple SVP Phil Schiller took the stand to speak to how the iPhone and iPad came into existence. He confirmed that Apple was working on the iPad before it decided to drive the iPhone’s creation. Samsung’s attorney then asked if the new iPhone would have a changed design to which Apple objected, and then Judge Koh overruled the objection (sounds like she wanted to know as well!) but Schiller opted not to answer the question and Samsung then chose not to pursue it. That was it. Just before lunch recess Scott Forstall, SVP for iOS took the stand. The court then adjourned for lunch, and we’ll need to leave it at that.

An interesting first week as we saw a lot of rope-a-dope maneuvers. But no major blows of any sort from either side as yet.  

Want to learn more about today’s powerful mobile Internet ecosystem? Then be sure to attend the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct. 2-5 2012, in Austin, TX. Co-sponsored by TMC Partner Crossfire Media the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo provides unmatched networking opportunities and a robust conference program representing the mobile ecosystem. The conference not only brings together the best and brightest in the wireless industry, it actually spans the communications and technology industry. For more information on registering for the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo click here.

Stay in touch with everything happening at Mobility Tech Conference & Expo. Follow us on Twitter.


Tony Rizzo has spent over 25 years in high tech publishing and joins MobilityTechzone after a stint as Editor in Chief of Mobile Enterprise Magazine, which followed a two year stretch on the mobile vendor side of the world. Tony also spent five years as the Director of Mobile Research for 451 Research. Before his jump into mobility Tony spent a year as a publishing consultant for CMP Media, and served as the Editor in Chief of Internet World, NetGuide and Network Computing. He was the founding Technical Editor of Microsoft Systems Journal.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

FOLLOW MobilityTechzone

Subscribe to MobilityTechzone eNews

MobilityTechzone eNews delivers the latest news impacting technology in the Wireless industry each week. Sign up to receive FREE breaking news today!
FREE eNewsletter