It’s not exactly the thrilla’ in manilla, but a heavyweight fight is set in the otherwise staid patent courts. Apple and Samsung, which both comprise most smartphone sales, are looking for a knockout, hoping to grab more market share and force rivals to pay up.
Over the next several days, both companies are set to argue why sales of each other’s smartphones should be blocked as both companies continue to point fingers. What’s in it for Apple? Potentially the loss of its most-popular handsets and throwing a roadblock in front of the Android express…
Center ring will be the U.S. International Trade Commission, which as the patent wars have heated, went from a nerdy legal organization to a key weapon for technology companies.
Now, an Apple hearing to consider a ban of some Samsung handsets was delayed until August 9.
Meanwhile, a bit of Washington theatre is underway as observers wait to see whether U.S. President Barack Obama will overturn the ITC’s ban of some iPhone 4 models set to begin Sunday.
Whichever company wins the bruising fight could force the other back to the bargaining table and lucrative licensing fees. If a settlement is not quickly arranged, “bargaining positions could change very abruptly based on what happens in litigation, which is inherently unpredictable,” researcher Nick Rodelli told Bloomberg.
Patent lawyer Duane Morris told the news service that after a few punches land, “people get reasonable.” Apple claims Samsung “deliberately copied” the designs and technology used in the iPad and iPhone, undercutting the company’s prices.
Samsung argues Apple won’t license its technology, no matter the price.
Apple wants sale of some Samsung devices banned in the U.S., arguing a 2012 San Jose, Calif. court ruled that dozens of Samsung handsets violated iPhone patents. At the time, the judge ruled sales could continue, writing that there was no direct connection between the infringement by Samsung and why consumers decide to purchase smartphones.
An ITC court also ruled that the South Korean smartphone maker infringed upon Apple patents. In response, Samsung said the iPhone patents related to “such trivial features as translucent images and rounded rectangles.”
Banning the Samsung products would harm both consumers and the smartphone market, the company argued.
For Apple, unless the White House and the U.S. Trade Representative step in to block the impending sales ban on some older iPhone 4 models, the move could damage sales of an increasingly important portion of iPhone sales.
Recent reports found the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S comprise almost half of iPhone sales. It is rare for such intervention to happen. Indeed, the last time it occurred was during Ronald Reagan’s presidency and the case involved Samsung’s memory chips.
However, even if the ban against some iPhone 4s goes into effect, Apple likely will quickly ask for a delay from the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC, which handles patent appeals.
According to Bloomberg, the chances are good that the ITC ban will be put on ice until September, when yet another Apple case is expected to heard – this time involving Google’s Motorola Mobility.