Just when it had all gone a little quiet on the battlefront, Samsung has launched another counter attack against Apple.
The Korean technology behemoth has now added Apple’s latest multi-million selling handset to a US patent lawsuit. Samsung is claiming Apple’s new iPhone 5 infringes eight of its technology developments.
It is just the latest crusade in the long-running war between the two rival companies.
Samsung says Apple has breached patents including those which capture and send video over the internet and which allow users to synchronise their photographs, tunes and video files across different devices. The Korean firm had already filed claims against iPhone 5’s predecessors and against iPads, but wanted to make sure the latest device was included in the legal action.
The move comes after Californian firm Apple claimed Samsung Galaxies had copied the look and the iOS system software found on iPhones and iPads.
While some of Apple’s claims were rejected, the firm drew blood when a jury, based in California, ruled that Samsung should pay Apple more than $1bn in damages. It also scored a major marketing coup when the judge said Apple’s devices were cooler than those of Samsung.
But, it hasn’t all gone Apple’s way. In August, Samsung won a ruling in South Korea that Apple had breached two patents. Apple was ordered to pay, what is a drop in the ocean for the firm, $35,000 in damages.
The latest Samsung vs Apple lawsuit goes back to April when a complaint about other Apple devices was lodged by Samsung in California and the case is due to go to trial in March 2014, when it is expected to provoke similar interest among consumers and the media as the last US trial did.
The case will involve two patents, known as Frands. That means if Apple agrees to pay a fair rate for them Samsung will have a legal obligation to let Apple use them because they are recognised as being essential to data transmission standards.
But the other six disputed technologies are feature patents which, if a jury agrees with Samsung that Apple has breached them, means Samsung could apply to have Apple’s products removed from the shelves if it does not remove the features from its gadgets.
There seems to be no end in sight at the moment to the lawsuits and legal challenges being filed by tech firms, with HTC, Motorola, Microsoft and RIM among the other companies currently involved in legal action.
Analysts disagree about whether the lawsuits could be a good thing for consumers, making companies up their game in what they offer us, or whether they are simply distracting tech firms from what they should be doing – making sure customers have the best products possible.
The plethora of legal action has prompted experts to call for a change in the software patents law. Judge Richard Posner, who is known for throwing out a case involving Apple and Motorola earlier this year, said: “My general sense… bolstered by an extensive academic literature, is that patent protection is on the whole excessive and that major reforms are necessary.”