Samsung and Apple battle to face jury trial

The global patent war between Apple and Samsung could be one step closer to a conclusion as their dispute faces trial by jury in California.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

Apple is convinced that Samsung has stolen its physical design for the iPhone and iPad. Samsung is convinced that Apple has stolen the method used to connect devices to the internet. Sounds like mere geeky details to the average Joe, but this dispute has been going on for more than two years and today heads to a court in California to begin one of the biggest ever trials of its kind. The court ruling could result in billions of dollars being paid by one or both companies, and they may even be banned from selling certain products.

Apple has filed for $1.6bn in damages, a figure which a judge could triple if Samsung is found guilty of wilful misconduct. Samsung has not specified what kind of sum it wants, but it alleges that Apple has not paid ‘a dime’ for the license it requires to run 3G internet connectivity in its phones. 

But it’s not just corporate bitching. Between them, the two companies have manufactured more than half of the smartphones sold throughout the world. Whoever wins this case could get a lock-down on the US market and take the lead unchallenged. But the irony of their battle is that Samsung manufactures the screens that are used in iPads, meaning both firms actually depend on each other for an essential part of their business.

Samsung is has a much bigger share of the wider mobile phone market and earlier this year overtook Nokia as the world's biggest manufacturer of handsets. Only last week it announced that profits rose by 79% in Q2, soaring to $5.9bn. But it attributes most of that growth to its smartphone sales, which now account for 60% of its profit – winning this battle against Apple is obviously essential for Samsung’s future growth. Apple already managed to secure an injunction on the sale of Samsung’s first edition Galaxy tablet PC, meaning the product had to be taken off the shelves throughout the US until courts decide on who has won the dispute. This probably wasn’t too much of a problem as Samsung’s second edition was allowed to stay on sale…

Whether or not the case will mean the companies drop their cases elsewhere in the world is not clear, but in the mean time, this is a battle of titanic proportions. Who will prevail and who will owe whom the billions remains to be seen. We just hope Apple has a chance to get the iPhone 5 out. This reporter really wants one…

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