back to article Apple, Samsung begin battle for billions in US patent smackdown

Apple and Samsung's tit-for-tat patent posturing will finally come to a head in the US today, as jury selection starts on a trial that could kill a massive audience for Samsung stuff, and result in a win (or loss) of billions of dollars for either side. Samsung's summer 2006 phone designs SEE, WE DID IT FIRST (Samsung's …


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  1. jungle_jim
    Thumb Up

    If I were King of the world.

    I'd ban both of them. completely.

    Then throw the lawyers into the lion pit.

    Then i would have a feast.

    1. HMB

      Re: If I were King of the world.

      Don't blame a lion for eating gazelles.

      It's entirely the fault of idiot bureaucrats and politicians that we're in this mess.

      "We don't understand technological progression and software, but we're happy to make laws and issue patents regardless. Who needs to know anything about what you do for a job anyway?"

      Feckless morons.

      Even without the politics of: "US court with US jury decide the fate of a top US company against foreigners at a time of yearning for the days when the US was a clear and leading superpower and wasn't in economic decline."

    2. big_D Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: If I were King of the world.

      They should get a room, then they should put the CEOs in the room and 2 baseball bats and see who comes out... To recoup the money wasted on lawyers so far, they could sell it as pay-per-view...

    3. LarsG

      Long may this controversy last

      Think how bland El Reg would be without it.

      It would only be about tech news, sanitised stories and boring stuff about new laptops.

      This gives it meat and two veg, this is what we want!

    4. henrydddd

      Re: If I were King of the world.

      In all probability, if Apple wins, it will be the death of the Android, and all alternatives to Apple products in the tablet and smart phone field.

  2. Karirunc


    Maybe as a polite gesture and as thank you to Very Protective legal system, apple could start stamping their kit with designed in the USA, instead of California.

    1. Bodhi

      Re: Hooray

      Going by some of the revelations in the case so far, maybe they should say "Designed in Tokyo"?

    2. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: Hooray

      Better if it was truthfully labelled: Made in the USA

  3. SteveK

    Innocent unless proven guilty

    Surely in the interests of fairness, if a judge is going to ban one product from sale before the case has even been heard, products from both companies should be banned until the outcome has been reached?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Innocent unless proven guilty

      I agree Ban All Products from Both then go to court. Then perhaps we'd get a speedy settlement.

      1. John G Imrie

        Re: Innocent unless proven guilty

        That's a sick and twisted idea. I like it :-)

  4. g e

    The theory behind these pre-trial bans

    Is that Koh, being a bit of a fan herself, has already decided what the outcome will be anyway.

    1. wowfood

      Re: The theory behind these pre-trial bans

      Considering the number of disputes between the two that Apple has won, I'm honestly surprised Samsung hasn't requested a different judge to take the place of Koh.

      1. Jyve

        Re: The theory behind these pre-trial bans

        Aye, for someone with her background working on Apple IP before, it's certainly odd Samsung haven't raised this as a concern, unless that's going to be the basis for the appeal.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can't patent rounded corners

    You can't patent rounded corners. No one will be confused by the two phones, each company has their logo emblazoned on the phone, the packaging, and in their advertising.

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: You can't patent rounded corners

      Apple HAVEN'T patented round corners, they've patented a 3D shape. It's quite possible to create a phone with rounded corners that doesn't infringe this patent.

      Samsung have gone out of their way to make their products look as close as possible to those of Apple. If you can't see the logo then it's hard to spot the difference between the iPhone and the Galaxy S. Samsung also copied Apple's packaging, and in some territories they skip printing the Samsung logo on the box too. The result is that it is easy for the general buying public to end up with a Samsung when they wanted an Apple (it was the top reason given for Best Buy returns of Galaxy Pads).

      1. Mark .

        Re: You can't patent rounded corners

        "Apple HAVEN'T patented round corners, they've patented a 3D shape."

        I'm not sure if your post is a parody or not. The idea of patenting the cuboid is even more barmy than patenting rounded corners.

        "It's quite possible to create a phone with rounded corners that doesn't infringe this patent."

        Well yes, I can just see that spherical, dodecahedron and triangular prism phones being so workable. That's all we had, until Apple came along and showed us the cuboid...

        And again, you have it backwards. Saying one can't make a cuboid-like phone is a far greater problem than saying one can't have rounded corners (though the latter is still ridiculous).

        1. Steve Todd

          @Mark . - You STILL haven't figured out

          that a design patent is not a regular patent I see. In the EU we call them Registered Designs, and you can register any shape you like providing that it is (a) distinctive and (b) not required for the device to function.

          Do try not to look like a complete idiot when you come up with these prognostications.

          1. Mark .

            Re: @Mark . - You STILL haven't figured out

            [snipped ad hominem]

            If we have the same system just by a different name, why isn't the same thing happening here?

            Any system that allows you to register and then get a monopoly on something as broad as "rectangular with rounded corners" is barmy, and worthy of criticism. Even more so if this is done at the design stage, and so as I say in my earlier post, nothing to do with the risk that people might be confused (i.e., issues that are covered by trademarks), but instead something that adversely affects other companies who are working on such obvious designs independently, but just happen to be later to "register" (or perhaps, they don't go in for this trolling).

            So far, the claims (including from people like you) have all being to do with alleging that Samsung intentionally copied Apple in some hope to "steal" sales. Yet now it turns out we're back-pedalling, to say "Apple registered them earlier, so Samsung can't use the rectangle, even if they designed them independently before such designs were made public from Apple"? That claim might have a better chance of being true, but it's also a far more a ridiculous thing to ban Samsung from doing.

            1. Steve Todd

              @Mark . - Not getting any better

              Firstly you've demonstrated that you don't know what an ad hominem is. (If I'd called you an idiot, and therefore you must be wrong then that would have been an ad hom, As it was I said this is why you are wrong, not understanding this makes you look like an idiot).

              Secondly you're still completely failing to understand registered designs/design patents. They are very specific and require copying most if not all of the design in order to infringe. Apple haven't been handed rights to all cuboid shapes like you are (idiotically) claiming.

              Thirdly as the Galaxy S line progressed they got less and less like the iPhone, yet they still work as phones and yet aren't subject to injunction. Samsung's own internal documents show that they were trying to piggyback on the iPhone's popularity and that the most common reason for Galaxy Pad returns was that they had been confused with iPads.

              1. hjb

                Re: @Mark . - Not getting any better


                "the Galaxy S line progressed they got less and less like the iPhone"

                Sure S2 to S3 was a dramatic change in designwise (I dont know what you mean by 'got less and less like' though). I also think Samsung deliberately changed their design in S3. But can you blame Samsung in this? I would do the same even though I used my original design in previous models, because a company with deep pocket is comming after me with nonsence patents for "INJUNCTIONS" for god sake. (remember injunction means dead in this area)

                1. Steve Todd

                  @hjb - patents are, in my experience, bullshit if you don't understand them

                  Or disagree with them. Personally I think that at least one of the Samsung patents they are suing Apple with is bullshit (MP3 playback as a background task on a mobile phone, dated 2007!), but it's up to the courts to decide whether they are valid and infringed.

                  The job of a design patent is to prevent competitors from rippling off the appearance of each others devices, and therefore they are filling the job they are supposed to do. The injuncted models have been superseded so there's little financial loss (this says more about the speed of the court system), but even if they had been current the point of an injunction is that the court finds a strong case in favour of the plaintiff AND THEY HAVE TO PAY A BOND TO COVER LOSSES IF THE JURY DECIDES OTHERWISE.

      2. hjb

        Re: You can't patent rounded corners

        Samsung had their own phone design (f700) and UI, before the first iPhone was released. Did you read Samsung Trial Brief? There are some excellent points.

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: You can't patent rounded corners

          and the F700 myth has been debunked multiple times (by Android websites on occasions even). It wasn't seen until after the iPhone launch announcement, at which point it was a very rough and very incomplete prototype.

          1. hjb

            Re: You can't patent rounded corners

            Steve, I suggest you to read Samsung's brief. Samsung said they registered their design in late 2006, and had UI design in 2006 summer. If that is evidenced in the court, it is obvious that Samsung did not copy iPhone. We will see what Samsung would bring to the court.

            1. henrydddd

              Re: You can't patent rounded corners

              The sad thing is that the Judge has already decided the issue. I don't think Sampsung has a chance of a fair trial in this issue.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Judge Lucy Koh sounds like a right iSheep.

  7. Wize

    It is possible both had the same idea without copying each other.

    I'm sure Apple's designs from 2005 were under lock and key, so hard for Samsung to have seen them.

    The public know what they are buying too. I'm sure the Apple Fanboys don't want an Android device just as much as the Android users don't want Apples. And if you can't tell the difference between them, maybe you shouldn't be buying one as you might have a foreign knock off with a fake label and end up with neither.

  8. Roger Stenning


    "The Korean firm said that the "gratuitous images have no evidentiary value and have been asserted in order to turn the trial into a popularity contest", but the judge didn't agree. She said that all five of the slides with the Jobsian visage would be allowed because they were relevant to the iPhone or iPad design patents."

    Jobs' face is now part of their patent?! Is this judge completely barmy?! I think it's high time to isolate the US from trading ANYWHERE on the planet because they have restrictive trading practices, a patent system that allows them to make up the rules as they go along, and a judicial system designed and intended to weigh heavily in their own favour - which is exactly what they are opposed to in the rest of the world. They CANNOT have it both ways. one or the other, Uncle Sam, and make the decision snappy.

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: WTF?!

      Were they prrhapse of the launch events where Steve was showing the devices to the world? That would seem to be relevant.

      1. Lord Voldemortgage

        Re: WTF?!

        I am sure the image of the phone could be shown without including Jobs's face.

  9. Paul Shirley

    appeal is now guaranteed

    Koh and the magistrate judge have now made so many legally unsupportable decisions Samsung are guaranteed to have their appeal heard and Koh has no power to stop them applying. Apple may have a harder job when/if the jury smacks them because Koh's decisions have been so transparently biased in Apples favour.

    It's going to be a BIG bill for lost Samsung sales. Enough to put a dent in even Apples accounts.

  10. Mark .

    Maybe the media and Apple fans should be taking watch

    ...perhaps those Samsung 2006 slides can put to rest the millions of fanatics claiming that Apple invented (or "popularised") touchscreen phones, or that other manufacturers only did it because of them.

    As for the later slides from Apple - even if Apple also had designs earlier, surely this is missing the point? The claim that Samsung copied what Apple were selling in the marketplace seems an entirely different claim to saying that Apple were the first to work on such designs. I mean, supposedly what the US calls a "design patent" are what we call trademarks, but there's a significant difference. Only the former claim is a trademark issue, since there you're copying what's already being used in the marketplace. But saying you should be able to "own" a design, simply because you drew it first, similar to the way patents work, seems completely mad to me.

    Seriously - are Apple claiming there was some espionage here, or that they should own the designs even if they were independently created?

    Surely Samsung should also bring in the support of other companies here - even if Apple were before Samsung in initial designs, there were clearly other phones like this out in the marketplace years earlier (in patent cases, prior art can be shown from any company, not just the one defending). Touchscreens were a technology that had already been shown, and were clearly becoming more common - the idea that one company can own any design for this, years after others have brought it to market, is mad.

    "The bitter international rivalry between the top smartphone and fondleslab makers "

    But Nokia aren't causing problems here. I think you mean, rivalry between the number one, and a company that are third place, and have lost massive sales over the last few quarters. A drop of 10 million sales in a single quarter? It makes Nokia's slide look gentle!

  11. Schultz
    Thumb Up

    10-person jury

    This will be the ultimate Fanboi deathmatch, 10 jurors have to pick sides in the ultimate religious fight of our times. Too bad that they won't act it out in a big-brother container.

    It's a jury trial, so by definition common sense will prevail. Maybe it won't make sense to commoners who live outside the greater Cupertino / San Jose area, but ten biased opinions should be ten times the fun of what we got from justice Koh so far.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: 10-person jury

      You do have to wonder quite how much more legal error Koh can perpetrate, how badly she can bias the jury instructions.

      Maybe she'll copy the Oracle vs Google case and tell the jury Samsung are guilty? But that was only tolerable because judge Alsup set it up so he could correct the jury decision if they didn't throw out Oracles claims. I assume he already knew he would rule against Oracle and it seemed like a sensible shortcut (didn't work out that way).

      The normal explanation when US judges show bias like this is that they're favouring the side they think will lose to prevent them having any chance of appealing. Kohs behaviour just seems too far beyond that explanation, the damage is being done to Samsung NOW and an appeal can't undo that, a win won't pay enough either. She's made sure Samsung lose whatever the outcome of the case.

      1. Philip Lewis

        Re: 10-person jury

        IANAL, so the legal basis for your opening assertion would be?

  12. KroSha

    "...the 10-person jury has to reach a unanimous decision for Apple to win its patent arguments or Samsung to triumph..."

    And if they can't reach a unanimous verdict?

    1. Andrew Dunning

      Another round of this crap.

      1. Darryl infinitum, ad nauseum

  13. arrbee

    So will potential jurors who own any Apple or Samsung gadgets be excluded ?

    How about those who use Macs, or other Android devices ?

    What about someone who used to own an Apple/Samsung gadget but has since got rid of it ?

    Hmm, unlikely to find enough Nokia users in the state to make up a jury...

  14. Gannon (J.) Dick

    Just wondering.

    If you were reinventing the wheel, wouldn't rounded corners make a square one roll way better ?

  15. Steve I

    what exactly being debated?

    I'm pretty sure that Apple's design patent is not for 'square with round corners'. does anyone know (and that's 'know' - as in the English definition of the word, not guess, assume, pull-out-of-your-arse etc etc) exactly what is alledged to have been infringed? I^d be interested to read it.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Steve I

      Re: what exactly being debated?

      Answering my own question:

      Apple claims it is victim to seven patent breaches including copies of its designs for the bodies of the original iPhone and the iPad as well as user-interface elements such as the bounce-back response when a person scrolls beyond the end of a list, and tap-to-zoom.

      Samsung's claims cover the integration of a mobile phone, digital camera and email into a single device; bookmarking a picture in an image gallery; and using an app while continuing to listen to music in the background.

  16. TheRealWelshCJ

    Bored now

    Bored of all this now! People have preferences and opinions and should be allowed to buy the device that they want, sales numbers on either side does not correlate directly to lost sales.

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