Apple smashes Samsung in patent war

Apple moves to ban the sale of eight Samsung smartphones in the US after its landmark victory over Samsung in the year-long patent war.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 07 Sep 2012
After locking horns for more than a year, Samsung is now facing the prospect of a major design overhaul after Apple clinched a resounding victory in the smartphone patent war.

Apple is seeking to swiftly ban the sale of eight Samsung smartphones in the US after a court ruled on Friday that the South Korean tech giant had ‘wilfully’ copied the iPhone and iPad. The phones at risk include the Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge and Galaxy Prevail.

The landmark ruling by the US court follows months of tussling between the two tech giants. Apple filed its lawsuit in April 2011 alleging that a number of Samsung smartphones and computer tablets had ‘slavishly copied’ the iPhones and iPads. Samsung argued that Apple used its wireless technology without proper compensation.

Court hearings followed around the world as the two companies fought to maintain their global reputation. Last week a South Korean court ruled that both Apple and Samsung had copied each other, while a British court had previously dismissed Apple’s copyright claims. But the US trial was the one most closely watched, and on Friday an American jury voted unanimously in Apple’s favour. Samsung was ordered to pay more than $1bn in damages, and by Monday the hangover had kicked in. Samsung’s stock dropped 7.5% in South Korean trading while Apple’s stock hit a record high of $680.

The Android operating system used by Samsung and designed by Google was the main source of contention by Apple. Embraced by many phone companies, Android has become the world’s most popular smartphone operating system, much to Apple’s wrath. Steve Jobs told his biographer that Android was ‘a stolen product’ and he was ‘willing to go thermonuclear war on this.’

Friday’s decision means alternatives will now have to be found to the ‘pinch-and-zoom’ feature and ‘rubber-banding’, where lists jump back when pulled beyond their limit. And because the jury ruled that features built into Android, and not just those added by Samsung, violated Apple’s patents, other companies such as Google could also be forced to redesign its software.

The outcome of the Apple-Samsung war is also likely to have a significant impact in the tech world. Other phone designers will now be nervous that they could also face a humungous lawsuit if Apple thinks its intellectual property has been infringed. Meanwhile Samsung vows to continue the battle, saying it will appeal against the verdict. The fight isn’t over just yet…

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