Court proceedings begin today in a suit by tech giant Apple against Samsung over copyright infringement of its popular iPhone and iPad products.
Apple filed the suit last year, alleging that Samsung's smartphones and tablets are rip-offs of the iPhone and iPad. Apple is asking for more than $2 billion in damages, which would make it the largest patent-related verdict ever.
Chief political correspondent and senior writer for CNET, Declan McCoullagh, said Samsung claims they were developing the products in question internally “pre-iPhone.” Moreover, Samsung alleges Apple is just as guilty of infringing on their patents.
“It’s a very narrow legal question of whether Samsung is infringing on Apple’s patents or if Apple’s infringing Samsung’s,” said McColluagh. McCoullagh characterized the upcoming legal battle, which could take a month or longer, as “hairy” and “messy.”
The case however, is nothing new to the heavyweight tech companies. The AP reports that Apple and Samsung have been duking it out abroad in courts in the United Kingdom and Germany over a similar patent-related dispute.
According to AP, last month Samsung was also ordered by a district judge to pull its Galaxy 10.1 computer tablet from the U.S. market, pending the trial outcome.
While the courtroom skirmishes seem far from consumer concerns, the outcome of the lawsuit would directly affect the products available.
“If Apple wins, Samsung is going to have to design around these patents which means the prices of Android phones are likely going to go up, shipments could be interrupted,” McCoullagh said. “But if Samsung wins, I think we’ll see fewer of these knock-down, drag-out patent lawsuit fights because until recently, companies have been hesitant to go down this thermonuclear patent warfare path for the same reason that countries didn’t nuke each other during the cold war: it’s mutually assured destruction. Juries are unpredictable, you start throwing around billions of dollars but you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
McCoullagh added, “If Apple wins … you’re going to see the industries best minds diverted to trying to find ways to go around patents, [to avoid] depositions and trials, and they’re going to be answerable to lawyers instead of consumers more and more.”
Ironically, he points out, Apples uses off-the-shelf Samsung technology, including chips, in their products like the iphone.
“It’s kind of funny: they’re suing each other but they’re business partners,” he said. ever.
Declan McCoullagh, chief political correspondent and senior writer for CNET