One of the fiercest rivalries in the world of business is heading back to court this week with Apple seeking $US2bn in damages from Samsung for allegedly ripping off designs and features.
The trial in Silicon Valley, California will mark the latest round in a long-running series of lawsuits between the two tech giants as they fight for the multi-billion dollar smartphone market.
The most attention grabbing claim in the case is Apple’s demand that market leader Samsung, which sold one in three of all smartphones last year, pay a $US40 royalty for each device running software allegedly conceived by Apple. That is more than five times more than the amount sought in the previous trial and well above other precedents between smartphone companies.
If Apple prevails, the costs to Samsung could reach $US2 billion. Apple’s costs, if it lost, are expected to be about $US6 million.
The other new twist in the case is that Samsung hope to draw Google into the battle by calling the engineers who designed the search giant’s Android system – which is used by Samsung’s phones — to give evidence explaining how they built it independently of Apple .
The latest case, which begins on Monday in San Jose with jury selection, will be tried less than two years after a federal jury found the South Korean firm was infringing on Apple patents. Samsung was ordered to pay about $US900m but is appealing and has been allowed to continue selling products using the technology.
Apple this time accuses Samsung of infringing on five patents on newer devices, including Galaxy smartphones and tablets. In a counterclaim, Samsung says Apple stole two of its ideas to use on iPhones and iPads.
“Apple revolutionised the market in personal computing devices,” Apple claims in court filings. “Samsung, in contrast, has systematically copied Apple’s innovative technology and products, features and designs, and has deluged markets with infringing devices.”
Samsung countered that it has broken technological barriers with its own ultra-slim, lightweight phones.
“Samsung has been a pioneer in the mobile device business sector since the inception of the mobile device industry,” Samsung said. “Apple has copied many of Samsung’s innovations in its Apple iPhone, iPod, and iPad products.”
In the upcoming case, Apple claims Samsung stole a tap-from-search technology that allows someone searching for a telephone number or address on the web to tap on the results to call the number or put the address into a map. In addition, Apple says Samsung copied “slide to unlock”, which allows users to swipe the face of their smartphone to use it.
Samsung countered that Apple is stealing a wireless technology system that speeds up sending and receiving data.
The case underscores a much larger concern about what is allowed to be patented with experts questioning whether Apple should be allowed to make its case.
“There’s a widespread suspicion that lots of the kinds of software patents at issue are written in ways that cover more ground than what Apple or any other tech firm actually invented,” Notre Dame law professor Mark McKenna said. “Overly broad patents allow companies to block competition.”
“You rarely get from the jury what you ask for, so companies aim high,” German patent analyst Florian Mueller said. “But in my opinion this is so far above a reasonable level the judge should not have allowed it.”
The problem, he said, is that each smartphone has thousands of patented ideas in it; Apple is challenging just five.
With the San Jose federal courtroom just a 15-minute drive from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, even jury selection can be difficult. In the previous case, several prospective jurors were dismissed because of their ties to the company.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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