Here I am talking about the Samsung Vs. Apple case on the radio this week:
So to recap... The Jury in the Apple Vs Samsung trial found in favour of Apple to the tune of 1.049 Billion dollars (Yes Billion, with a B). They did so because in the mind of the 9 jurors Samsung "willfully" copied Apple's design patents in the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II handsets (amongst the other plethora of handsets Samsung sells in The US).
Interestingly they did not believe Samsung copied Apple when it came to the Galaxy Tab line of devices.
The fact that Samsung was made to make public an internal, 150 odd page document pretty much spelling out that it should copy Apple and how, probably didn't help.
Samsung of course isn't going to take this lying down, and nor should it, it should be free to seek as many legal appeals and remedies as it (and the system) see fit. It has lodged post verdict motions seeking to overturn the judgement of the jury.
Of these motions and machinations, the case of the jury foreman is interesting. Velvin Hogan, an inventor and the holder of a patent himself relating to video compression technology was an obvious choice for jury foreman. He had at least some understanding of the patent system - more so than other lay people on the jury. Hogan spoke to The Verge and said what was on everyone's minds - that the US patent system is broken and that the "court of popular [sic] opinion" was the only way to go in terms of fixing it. And in that I am in agreement.
However it has come to light that the iPhone may well take advantage of Hogan's patent. And of course this has sent Samsung into total freak-out mode:
Samsung Electronics said Thursday that it is looking closely into whether patents owned by Velvin Hogan, the foreman of a U.S. jury that recently delivered a verdict against the company, may have been used by Apple.
Samsung’s reaction came after U.S. media reported that Hogan holds a patent in his name that could be used in Apple’s iProducts. ``Samsung Electronics is monitoring the situation, closely,’’ said a company spokesman, Thursday, without elaborating further.
Of course in the modern world of smartphones "It could also have been used in a Samsung device...", or so says the author of the original story quoted by the Korea Times. At any rate I don't think there is much to this one, except that it adds more grist to the mill for Samsung's appeals. Judge Lucy Koh already said during the case that Samsung had already proven enough to make an appeal viable.
Meanwhile it's easy to forget that this is but one of many court cases between Samsung and Apple specifically, and Apple and various other patent holders more generally. In Seoul a Korean Judge found that both Samsung AND Apple had infringed on each others patents, while a court in Tokyo found in favour of Samsung.
Tokyo District Judge Tamotsu Shoji ruled Samsung’s Galaxy line of devices including tablets and smartphones “didn’t violate” Apple’s patent related to synchronizing music and video data in devices to servers.
The upshot of all of this has been and will continue to be both companies seeking injunctions on the sale of competing devices. The Korean ruling prevented the sale of iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, and Galaxy SII devices in Korea - of course all of them are off the shelves anyway (well in Korea at any rate, the SII for example has only just been launched on some US carriers - but then this ruling doesn't apply there). In addition we will continue to see the patent merry-go-round keep spinning unless, sometime soon, there is the mother of all court battles between Apple, and perhaps their real target, the proverbial "man behind the curtain", Google, who of course licenses Android to a number of manufacturers including Samsung. Stay tuned, my bet is that it'll happen before the end of next year.
And then what of the iPhone 5 in Korea? You can bet that Samsung will bring down the hammer to try and prevent its sale in Korea. Both using the legal system, and by squeezing the carriers, whom it has a tight grip on in terms of supplying handsets.
That being said, watch for the Grey market to hot up in Korea as a response. It has now been about three months since you were able to purchase / import unlocked phones and use them in Korea. As long as the iPhone 5 can work on LTE networks here in Korea (no guarantee that it will, and indeed Apple might choose to exclude a radio chip that lets it work on LTE networks in Korea) expect them to go for pretty hefty prices.
I was somewhat disappointed in the reaction amongst most of the expat community in Korea towards the ruling in the US case. Most seemed to conflate the ruling with the endemic (academic) plagiarism in Korea. (Of which you will get no argument from me). But this is a different case. (And again, notwithstanding the rather incriminating document above) Its business. Samsung has made a business of making "3 star" products. What this verdict has said is that Apple products and Samsung products are the same. Not only are they essentially the same, but they are also cheaper - consumers not paying "The Apple Tax" is a good thing in my opinion. Not only that, but in the progression of devices made by Samsung in the last 3 years, Samsung has gone well beyond copying Apple. There is 1 iPhone. There is 1 iPad. Samsung has a bevy of interesting and innovative products. The Galaxy Note is a good example. (The Note II an even better example).
On top of all that Samsung has become the #1 handset maker in the world. And if they had too pay 1.049 Billion dollars (Billion with a B) then they did it pretty cheaply. Yup, Samsung probably did set out to copy Apple. Of course the irony in this case is the Stve Jobs line "Great artists steal". Has Samsung gone beyond just copying? Most definitely. And that's not a Samsung Fanboy speaking - the evidence speaks for itself:
Can I please have one of these Samsung? Please.