I had the need to Naver myself this evening, and had forgotten about this from The Korea Times. My comments are about half way down.
Two interesting points - Samsung in the end didn't seek an injunction against iPhone 4S in Korea, and secondly I used the word parochial. Good times!
From October last year:
In the midst of the technology titans’ patent warfare, consumers have fewer options in the shops.
Recently approved injunctions in Germany and Australia mean customers in those countries cannot get their hands on the Samsung Galaxy Tab — indefinitely at this point. If Samsung succeeds with its sales ban request of the new iPhone 4S in France and Italy, it would be a blow for the Apple fans there.
Current users of Apple and Samsung products are also confused with the change of functionality on their devices.
Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst and Galaxy S II smartphone user in Germany, said he noticed a change of features on his smartphone after he updated the software, specifically the photo viewing function. That’s because Samsung slightly modified certain features on the Galaxy S II from its previous version to avoid further patent attacks by Apple.
But the price, which matters most to consumers, won’t rise, said Kim Jong-wan, a senior analyst with Samsung Securities, in a phone interview.
That is because consumers usually buy iPhones and Galaxy Tabs through retailers and as long as subsidies stay the same, the long-standing lawsuits would not have a direct influence on price.
“There could be a shortage of the products due to the ongoing lawsuits. And if the injunctions are approved, consumers will not be able to buy the products,” Kim said.
That is exactly what Apple fans in some parts of the countries are worried about.
“It’s a fly in the ointment,” said Stafford Lumsden, a technology columnist for 10 Magazine, an English-language magazine in Korea, in an email, referring to Samsung’s latest move to ban Apple’s iPhone 4S. As a tech-savvy, latest gadget user, Lumsden uses an iPhone and owns three different tablets including an iPad and Galaxy Tab 10.1.
“This would be a particularly parochial move by Samsung and would risk incurring the ire of a small but very vocal group of consumers in favor of the iPhone and Apple in general.”
Apple, the most popular smartphone maker, according to the latest IDC data, first filed an infringement lawsuit against Samsung this April in the United States, claiming that Samsung’s Galaxy line of products “slavishly” copied the iPhone and iPad design and its user interface. Samsung ranks No. 2 in smartphone sales after Apple.
In a counterattack, Samsung sued Apple over its patents pertaining to wireless technologies used in the iPhone and iPad series. So far, the two leading contenders are involved in 20 legal battles in 10 countries in a bid to top the smartphone and tablet markets.
Both Samsung and Apple customers agree that intense competition is the reason behind the ongoing patent flare.
A Samsung Galaxy S smartphone user, Park Sang-ho said the continuous infringement litigations seem unnecessary.
“Because smartphone makers have to compete in the market, it is inevitable for a company to imitate a rival’s product design,” said Park, 26, a doctor.
“After I heard about Apple suing Samsung on its patent infringement, I came to have more confidence in Samsung, because it means Apple acknowledges that Samsung has competitiveness in the smartphone market,” said Kim In-hwan, 25, a junior at Kyunghee University.
Most recently in a U.S. court hearing, a judge said Samsung’s Galaxy tablets infringe Apple’s iPad patents but the court has yet to approve Apple’s request to bar the Galaxy product sales in the U.S.
“We are disappointed with this ruling and Samsung will take all necessary measures including legal action in order to ensure our innovative products are available to consumers,” Samsung said in a statement.
These kinds of patent lawsuits between technology giants are nothing new. And it’s often a loss for both parties, paying large sums in legal fees, counting the cost of lost business and management distraction, according to a recent study by the Boston University School of Law. On average, companies lose half a trillion dollars, the study said.
Experts say industry leaders who get involved in such lawsuits end up with a settlement, what the industry calls cross-licensing. This is basically a deal between the large patent holders to share certain rights to avoid paying royalties.
And it gets tougher for small technology companies to survive in brutal patent fights. It also discourages start-ups from entering the market with “the next cool thing.”
“The wireless devices market has had high barriers to entry for a long time. For some time it belonged to a handful of giants including Nokia and Motorola, and patents have always been a cornerstone of that entrance barrier,” said Mueller, the patent expert.
But the small companies don’t have anything to offer in this patent clash.
“I think HTC faces the greatest risk of the large players because its market share hugely exceeds the strength of its patent portfolio. I think that some companies that are even weaker on patents than HTC such as Barnes & Noble may have to give up at some point,” Mueller said.
What is the real patent issue here?
There are three types of patent rights: technical invention, design and fair competition.
The technical patent is the strongest that gives sole rights to a patent holder. The importance of design patents is weighed differently from country to country. For instance, Germany takes it more seriously. That is why the German court recently ruled in favor of Apple’s claim over Samsung’s design infringement. On the other hand, the Netherlands has not fully recognized Apple’s design patent rights, Mueller said.
Lastly, the trickiest argument involves the competition law or FRAND, meaning fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory. The World Trade Organization defines numerous intellectual property right rules that member nations are obliged to follow.
But different nations have their own standards in analyzing technical details on a given patent and it usually takes at least a year to interpret the language and decide whether a patent is valid in each specific case.
“Apple has gone too far,” Mueller said, referring to its patent attack against Samsung and ultimately on Google, which owns Android, the top operating system for mobile devices.
Apple is “sifting the wheat from the chaff” to find a few strong patents from a large pools in dispute, and ultimately win over its industry competitors.
In that context, the recent Australian ruling is significant because the patents at issue, including one on touchscreen heuristics, are not “tablet-specific” but rather very broad. This means it prevents Samsung from working around it to avoid a further patent dispute, Mueller said, on his blog.
Samsung has alleged Apple infringed in areas related to its wireless telecommunications technology, specifically “wideband code division multiple access standards.” This technology is widely used in 3G mobile devices. The problem is that the patents Samsung are claiming over are “essential,” which means they fall under industry standards and they are agreed to be shared, Mueller said.
“I’m worried about Samsung taking positions that would create serious issues for the industry at large, which relies on FRAND commitments,” Mueller said, in an email, referring to Samsung’s latest injunction request. He said Samsung is using the standard patent as a “strategic weapon,” which is against the general agreement in the industry.
However, Samsung dismissed this view, claiming that what Apple did is in clear violation of its intellectual property rights.
“(Apple) is committed to taking a FRAND approach to licensing our patents that form part of essential technology protocols or standards in order to support industry development. However, if a company flagrantly violates our intellectual property rights and free rides on our technology, we will take appropriate legal action to protect our innovation,” said Erick Kwon, Samsung spokesman, in an e-mail.
When contacted, Apple Korea spokesman Steve Park declined to comment