The Great Apple-Samsung Legal War has been raging on for years now, and on a scale almost unprecedented in business history. The latest in the saga involves a California court awarding Apple $119.6 million in damages over Samsung patent infringement, a far cry from the $2 billion the iPhone maker was shooting for.
The ruling has prompted many watchers to question the wisdom of Apple’s thermonuclear war on Android. Adding the latest damages award on top of the $900+ million awarded to Apple from the first patent megatrial barely results in $1 billion. I’m certain this is the price Samsung is happy to pay for profiting from willfully lifting Apple’s patented iPhone technology.
But no amount of litigation will ever stop Android dead in its tracks, argues an attorney for Samsung who represents the South Korean conglomerate in the courtroom…
CNET has this quote by Samsung attorney John Quinn:
Up to this point, I think Apple really hadn’t given up hope [it] could cripple Android somehow. This has got to be the last straw. They’ve got to realize they’re not going to slow Android down by suing people.
They (Apple) have nothing to show for the hundreds of million of dollars they’ve spent. I’m sure they’re looking for a graceful exit. I’m pretty sure the Apple smartphone wars against Android are a thing with a limited future.
And the following line is gold.
“We do regard it as a win,” Quinn said. “Years into Apple’s holy war on Android, they haven’t collected a nickel.”
The nearly $1 billion in damages to Apple from the first trial “will be, if not reversed altogether, very substantially reduced,” Quinn believes.
“It’s kind of hard to talk settlement with a jihadist,” Quinn said, referring to a Steve Jobs email, revealed during the trial, that showed Apple’s co-founder had declared a “holy war” on Android.
“Even Apple, I think even [CEO] Tim Cook, has got to realize this is a fruitless endeavor. I think everyone’s tired of it. Reason must prevail at some point.”
What Quinn fails to mention is that these lawsuits are a matter of pride and principles for Apple. It’s never been about the money and Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged as much.
“For us this lawsuit has always been about something much more important than patents or money,” he wrote in an internal memo sent to troops in August 2012.
Commenting on the $119.6 million verdict, an Apple spokesperson said last week:
Today’s ruling reinforces what courts around the world have already found: That Samsung willfully stole our ideas and copied our products.
The goal of all this, according to Apple’s statement, is to defend the hard work that goes into products “which our employees devote their lives to designing and delivering for our customers.”
Compared to the $2 billion damages fine Apple’s been asking for, the $119.6 award has probably decreased the market value of Apple’s patented inventions. Because of this, I don’t think Tim Cook & Co. have reasons to celebrate.
And if all Apple intented all along was to send a message to competitors that they’ll be dragged to court for even thinking about ripping off Apple wholesale as Samsung has done, I don’t think the Galaxy maker cares.
Keep in mind that the South Korean chaebol has been called by many the most corrupt corporation in the world, one that strives on willfully lifting other people’s work.
Samsung’s track record of patent infringement is actually part of its ruthless business tactics, according to the awesome Vanity Fair piece entitled ‘The Great Smartphone War’.
The key takeaway from the write-up is that neither Apple nor any other company has the right counter-strategy for Samsung’s shenanigans.
Here’s an excerpt from the article that I think captures the essence of just how thick-skinned Samsung’s leadership is:
After weeks of delicate dancing, of smiling requests and impatient urgings, Jobs decided to take the gloves off. Hence the meeting in Seoul.
The Apple executives were escorted to a conference room high in the Samsung Electronics Building, where they were greeted by about half a dozen Korean engineers and lawyers. Dr. Seungho Ahn, a Samsung vice president, was in charge, according to court records and people who attended the meeting.
After some pleasantries, Chip Lutton, then Apple’s associate general counsel for intellectual property, took the floor and put up a PowerPoint slide with the title “Samsung’s Use of Apple Patents in Smartphones.”
Then he went into some of the similarities he considered especially outrageous, but the Samsung executives showed no reaction. So Lutton decided to be blunt.
“Galaxy copied the iPhone,” he said.
“What do you mean, copied?” Ahn replied.
“Exactly what I said,” Lutton insisted. “You copied the iPhone. The similarities are completely beyond the possibility of coincidence.”
Ahn would have none of it. “How dare you say that,” he snapped. “How dare you accuse us of that!” He paused, then said, “We’ve been building cell phones forever. We have our own patents, and Apple is probably violating some of those.”
The message was clear. If Apple executives pursued a claim against Samsung for stealing the iPhone, Samsung would come right back at them with a theft claim of its own. The battle lines were drawn.
You must be as fed up with this litigation as I am, no? That being said, I do want to hear your thoughts on the matter.
Would you agree with Quinn’s assessment that Apple’s Holy war on Android has a limited future? Should/will the two frenemies eventually settle out of court?
Chime in with your thoughts down in the comments.