Smartphone Wars by John Atallah

Apple sues Samsung for patent infringement. In response, Samsung files international countersuits on patents of its own. Courts around the world grant preliminary injunctions to each company on a number of their claims, while United States and European Union government agencies investigate allegations of antitrust violations. What’s going on here? Let’s start with the shiny new weapon that Apple added to its arsenal in June of last year: a patent on the original iPhone, the paperwork for which had been in the works since December of 2007. That patent claims, among other things, the finger-gesture-based set of input methods that has become integral to the functionality of today’s smartphones. Enter Samsung, now the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones and owner of numerous patents covering globally standardized technological protocols. Samsung’s use of those input methods, as well as overlaps in product design, in its line of Android-based devices has put it squarely in Apple’s crosshairs.Flicking your index finger up to scroll through an address book? Pinching a map or image to zoom out? Slicing watermelons to bits in Fruit Ninja? They’re all (arguably) covered by United States patent number 7966578 (“the ‘578 patent”). Though the capacitive touchscreen technology incorporated in the iPhone and most every modern smartphone is not itself claimed in Apple’s patent, the very means by which mobile phone users interact with that piece of hardware apparently is. The strength of the ‘578 patent has more recently been called into question by Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District Court of California, who in October of 2011 ruled that although Samsung’s devices indeed infringe Apple’s patent, Apple still bears the burden of demonstrating the patent’s validity before relief may be granted. Judge Koh more recently denied Apple’s zealous bid to enjoin sales of Samsung smartphones and tablets in the United States.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.