Sunday, October 16, 2011

Samsung-Apple war enters new phase


While the debate surrounding the global patent war staged by Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. is garnering wide attention, industry watchers say Samsung has a good chance of creating a turnaround even after its three defeats against the software giant.

“Apple currently looks to be in the lead, but it’s much more difficult to provide a forecast on how the situation will end up,” said Kim Seung-yul, team manager of the N-Screen team at Daum Communications.

He also said that the three nations ― the Netherlands, Germany and Australia ― where its courts handed the victory to Apple have traditionally favored the firm which has the patent.

“The reason a turnaround is possible is that it will take time to examine Samsung’s technology-related patents, while the patents or trade dress issues raised by Apple are easier to check,” Kim said.

Samsung Electronics vice chairman Choi Gee-sung also said the Samsung vs. Apple patent supremacy is a long-term battle in a meeting with reporters late Friday.

“We still respect (Apple) as our primary customer, but we can’t just shut our eyes while they take away our profits,” he said as he arrived at Gimpo Airport to greet its chairman Lee Kun-hee returning from an overseas business trip.

“We will make active efforts to go forward with a counteraction plan on our rival infringing Samsung’s rights.”

On Friday, a Dutch court rejected a bid by Samsung Electronics to ban sales of Apple’s 3G mobile phones and tablet PCs.

The judges in District Court of The Hague said in its decision posted online that the 3G technology, claimed by Samsung, has been accepted as an industry standard and Samsung is obliged to offer licenses to Apple under the “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) terms.

Samsung had argued that its rival infringed its 3G mobile communications technology-related patents.

An Australian court also slapped a temporary ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 earlier on Thursday. Samsung Electronics said it would immediately proceed with legal options following the interim order against its newest tablet PC.

However, the following day, the court turned down Apple’s bid to have Samsung give it an advanced warning of any new product launches in Australia until its infringement case against the Seoul-based firm goes to a full hearing.

With the patent war spreading across nine countries ― totaling up to 21 cases ― another court showdown, which focused on Samsung’s wireless technology patents, took place in Seoul on Friday.

During the three-hour heated hearing between the two rivals at Seoul Central District Court, Samsung’s lawyers argued that Apple had violated its “patent 234,” while Apple’s lawyers debated that the technology was nothing new to the industry.

Apple also said its mobile chips use a different algorithm from Samsung’s patent 234.

Judge Kang Young-soo asked the U.S. software giant to submit the details of the mobile chip algorithm to prove its case and to disclose specific manufacturers and sellers of its mobile chips within two weeks.

The next hearing in Seoul is scheduled for Dec. 9.

“Samsung Electronics and Apple are declaring they will go face-to-face on the issue. But both sides will inevitably incur great losses if they fail to reach an agreement because they are important business partners to each other,” said Kim. “Since the two firms have patents that are complementary, most outlooks say an agreement will be reached where the two sides will be both able to use their patents.”

Nam Tae-hyun, an analyst at IBK Securities, also said it was still too early to attach too much meaning to the Australian court’s decision, adding that there was still room for the two sides to reach a sudden agreement, such as a cross-license.

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