TechMan: Fallout descends after latest Apple-Samsung bout
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The fallout continues in the wake of Apple's crushing court win in its patent lawsuit against Samsung.
Apple already is capitalizing on the victory, handed down by a jury in California on Aug. 24. The company has asked the judge to permanently ban eight of Samsung's top selling phones from store shelves in the U.S.
The company wants smartphones Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S2 AT&T, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 T-Mobile, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Droid Charge and Galaxy Prevail taken off the U.S. market.
It chose those eight phones because they were currently being sold. But Apple also reserved the right to ask for a ban on the remainder of the 28 phones named in the suit. Many of the other phones are old and not sold anymore.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has set a hearing for Dec. 6 on that request.
Samsung's newest phone, the hot-selling Galaxy S3, was not part of the lawsuit.
In fact, customers appear to have rushed out to buy the Galaxy S III, with some stores running out of stock, according to Global Equities Research.
Other Samsung phones may not be doing so well. Electronics reseller Gazelle's Anthony Scarsella told MarketWatch.com that his website has seen a 50 percent increase in Samsung trade-ins in the days since the verdict.
Ironically, the one Samsung product that the judge temporarily banned before the trial, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, was found by the jury not to have violated a design patent. But the jury did find it violated three software patents.
Samsung is now asking for the ban on its tablet to be lifted. Judge Koh has set a hearing for Sept. 20 on that filing. Samsung has also vowed to appeal the original jury verdict.
Apple plans to ask the judge to triple the damages to $3.15 billion because of the jury's finding that Samsung "willfully" copied its products.
Although the $1 billion award won't sink Samsung (it is only about 1.5 percent of the South Korean company's annual revenue), the verdict has fired a powerful shot across the bow of Samsung and other phone makers, particularly those using Google's Android operating system.
Apple and Samsung have sued each other in 10 countries.
A judge in Tokyo ruled Friday that several Samsung phones and tablets don't infringe on an Apple patent for music and video technology, and ordered Apple to pay the South Korean company's legal costs.
In a lawsuit in South Korea judges said Samsung didn't copy the look and feel of Apple products. They also ruled that each company violated some of the other's patents.
So what exactly is being contested in these lawsuits? First there is "look and feel," sometimes called "trade dress." This is the claim by the maker of one product that another product deliberately copies the look of its devices in order to confuse the consumer.
In the U.S. case, Apple won "look and feel" on its phones but not its tablets.
In Great Britain, a judge ruled Samsung's Galaxy tablets were not "cool" enough to be confused with Apple's iPad.
In addition to look and feel, Apple claimed that Samsung infringed on certain patents it held.
In the U.S. case, among the patents that Apple won an infringement judgment on were: enlarging documents by tapping the screen; 'bounce-back' feature when scrolling beyond the edge of a page; and the ability to distinguish between single-touch and multitouch gestures.
So other than Samsung and Apple, who wins and who loses in all this?
The lawyers win. Estimates are that legal fees in the U.S. case were somewhere between $10 million and $500 million.
Some say Microsoft is a winner because smartphone makers may shy away from the Android operating system since it looks like Apple's iOS.
In fact, on Thursday Samsung unveiled its ATIV line, including a 10.1-inch tablet device running on Windows RT and a 4.8-inch smartphone using the Windows Phone 8 system.
But TechMan thinks consumers are losers, too.
Apple-Samsung is only the biggest and most recent of thousands of patent lawsuits filed in the U.S. each year. That can't fail to have a chilling effect on an engineer or an industrial designer, who -- when developing a new product -- now must think first about getting sued over some obscure patent.
First Published September 2, 2012 12:00 am