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American electronics giant goes in for the kill on rival

On Tuesday Reuters reported from Australia, revealing that a lawyer for Apple, Inc. (AAPL) had announced his company's decision to reject a cross-licensing offer from Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO 005930).

I. Apple Seeks Court-Enforced Smart Phone and Tablet Monopoly

Apple and Samsung are currently number one and number two, respectively, in global smartphone and in global tablet sales.  While Apple currently holds the lead, Samsung last quarter posted over three times the growth of Apple, making it the world's fastest growing smartphone company.  In a bid to try to slow its surging rival, Apple is going after Samsung in court [1][2][3][4] [5][6][7] with lawsuits.

While Apple claims that it approached Samsung prior to the lawsuit with an undisclosed proposal, Apple has thus far refused all settlement offers from Android manufacturers, instead looking to ban their sales in court.

Australia, Sydney harbor
Fig. 1: An Australian court is pondering whether to grant Apple a court-enforced monopoly on multi-touch, minimalist tablets. [Source: Island Glory]

Apple claims that it owns sole rights internationally to make a rectangular glass multi-touch tablet with a "minimalist" design (typically interpreted as a design having one or less face buttons).  It holds multiple regional patents on a minimalist tablet design from 2004, which it is using to try to enforce this claim.

The Cupertino gadget maker also claims ownership of mobile multi-touch.  In the U.S. it was granted a patent on multi-touch in mobile devices, despite the fact that Myron Krueger and the University of Toronto developed and published papers on virtually equivalent technology almost 25 years prior to Apple producing its first multi-touch device (the iPhone).

In Australia, where the case in this report is being contested, Apple holds three key multi-touch patents --  a patent on the manufacturing of a capacitive touch screen used in the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 (patent AU 2005246219), a patent covering selective rejection of inadvertent finger movements on a touch screen (patent AU 2008258177), and a heuristics patent used to correct a user's finger movements when scrolling vertically on a screen (patent AU 2007286532).

Essentially, Apple pieced together seemingly obvious or widely used techniques and sought patents on them. For example with the AU 2008258177 patent, it combines the common input filtering mechanism found in wireless mice, electronic steering, and more with a multi-touch input device and asserts that to be patentable.  In AU 2007286532, Apple combines mild artificial intelligence -- a heuristic (experience-based algorithm) -- with multi-touch finger motions to provide superior motions.

Without input filtering virtually any electronic input device feels glitchy and temperamental.  But Apple is in essence claiming that it owns exclusive rights to apply well researched techniques -- filtering and AI learning -- to multi-touch.  Needless to say, this is a claim that its rivals, including Google, Inc. (GOOG), find questionable; particularly given the body of peer-reviewed research on the topic published in the 80s and 90s.

If Apple succeeds in either of its claims, it will essentially be able to force Android smartphones and tablets in certain regions to adopt undesirable modifications -- for example glitchy touch interfaces and clumsy extra buttons.

Early multitouch devices
Fig. 2: Apple claims exclusive rights to apply commonly used software techniques like filtering or artificial intelligence to multi-touch input, despite the fact that most of these multi-touch technologies were developed in the 1980s and 1990s [pictured: Early multi-touch interface by Myron Krueger shows pinch zooming; source: Bill Buxton].

Samsung's lawyer, Neil Young, was frustrated with the slow pace of the court proceedings in Australia.  He commented that if a ruling did not come soon, that his company's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet was "commercially dead" in the large Australian market.  He remarks, "If we can’t get a decision out by mid-October, there is no urgency."

II.  Crucial Ruling May Decide Android and Apple's Fates

If the tablet indeed perishes, it would be Apple's second major victory over Samsung.  Earlier Samsung saw its tablet sales banned by a German judge.  Germany is Europe's third largest tablet market.

However, Samsung has somewhat of a victory under its belt as well.  In a decision largely misinterpreted by many news outlets, Apple won a single infringement claim against Samsung in the Netherlands.  However, that infringement claim only applied to one easily-removable feature within a single Android app, while Apple's broader claims were rejected.  Thus Samsung is not expected to see significant tablet or smartphone sales disruption in the Netherlands -- a victory for the South Korean firm.

The most important ruling, arguably, for Samsung may come this week, when a federal judge decides whether to bow to Apple's request for a preliminary injunction banning all Samsung Android smartphone and tablet imports to the U.S.  Apple is suing Samsung in Northern California District Court and claims that the the ban is necessary to prevent Samsung from "slavishly" copying its products.

Galaxy devices, in hand
Fig. 3: A decision on whether to ban U.S. sales of Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets could come as soon as this week.

If a ban were to be put in place Samsung's last hope would be to succeed in banning Apple's imports in its countersuits [1][2].  Such a dual-ban could force Apple to agree to cross-licensing out of self-interest.  Apple clearly would prefer a one-sided ban, which would allow it to stifle Samsung's product lineup, but it remains to be seen if it will be able to have its way with the American trade court.

The Samsung ruling is very important to the market in general as a preliminary injunction could signal the first of several similar rulings against the top Android manufacturers.  These rulings could give Apple a court-enforced monopoly in the U.S. -- or alternatively, be the final nail in the coffin of Apple's bid for market dominance.

Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA and Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ) have filed amicus curiae ("friend of the court") briefs [1][2] opposing Apple's request for a preliminary injunction stating it would have a catastrophic effect on the American phone market, where Android currently accounts for over half of smartphones sold.

Source: Reuters

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Fine by me...
By Boze on 10/4/2011 1:49:25 PM , Rating: 3
If its not Samsung it'll be someone else.

I'll wait for my Kindle Blaze smartphone running the "Kindle Blaze OS" and my Kindle Fire DX 9.7 or 10.1" tablet.

Amazon engineers have already joked about those products on YouTube, I'll wait till they're a reality; if its not Samsung, it'll be someone else, and as long as its not Apple, they can have my dollar.

Keep your "lifestyle" products, Apple. I'll take products that allow me to do what I want, how I want, when I want.

RE: Fine by me...
By gorehound on 10/5/2011 8:11:38 AM , Rating: 2
Apple is nothing but a big schoolyard bully.This company does nothing for me.I do not need any of your products.

More apple lawsuits coming.
By croc on 10/4/2011 4:33:29 PM , Rating: 3
Rumour has it that Apple will go after Ohio Art for making a"rectangular glass multi-touch tablet with a "minimalist" design." AKA the Etch-A-Sketch. They are apparently seeking to ban all sales of these devices in all markets as Ohio Art 'slavishly copied Apples' design.'

RE: More apple lawsuits coming.
By lagomorpha on 10/5/2011 11:45:26 AM , Rating: 2
That's an unfair comparison. Unlike iPads, Etch-A-Sketches are fun and useful.

By bbcdude on 10/4/2011 8:14:25 PM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one who doesn't think Apple and Samsung tablets and phones look the same? I mean look at them, this is not rocket science. The only person who could ever get them mixed up is a 90 years senile person with poor eyesight.

Does GM sue hyundai for creating a 4 door sedan with 4 wheels? They do look similar. Every single tablet on the market has a similar look. But people tell them apart, with no trouble. Do you have trouble telling people apart? How about telling which house is yours when they all are boxes with doors and windows?

Claiming that Samsung has copied apple is just silly. The only way to copy a tablet is with the OS, because the basic shape and design of the tablet is dictated by use.

This is nothing more than using legal tactics to try and gain an edge. Everyone knows this, including apple, so you just look silly trying to pretend that this is about anything else than trying to gain a marketplace advantage.

In the future to stop this ridiculous act from repeating, both companies should have to stop selling their products during the duration of the trial. This is just trying to captilize sales by witholding the competition for as long as possible.

RE: Perspective
By fteoath64 on 10/5/2011 8:18:00 AM , Rating: 3
@bbcdude: Well said. This is the case when court judges completely lost COMMON SENSE which is something we sentient intelligent humans possess by birth.
So unless the judge is being corrupted (possible), the ruling makes no sense, much less in the legal context. The dimensions are different,buttons are different and heck,Sammy even has their NAME etched in BOLD letters in front of the device. How could any sane human say it is the same ???.

Will never buy an Apple product
By masamasa on 10/4/2011 1:03:35 PM , Rating: 2
Unscrupulous, monopolizing company with no consumer interest in mind.

By HappyJB on 10/4/2011 6:43:44 PM , Rating: 2
It turned out that there was no such deal to settle the case.

It says
"Samsung had offered to agree to a quick trial on Apple’s patent claim if Apple agreed to drop its demand for a ban on the sale of the Galaxy 10.1, Young said. Apple rejected the proposal, he said."

This is what happened...
By B3an on 10/5/2011 2:31:18 AM , Rating: 1
This is what really happened...

Bias much?
By raejae on 10/4/11, Rating: 0
RE: Bias much?
By Phynaz on 10/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bias much?
By macdevdude on 10/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bias much?
By silverblue on 10/5/2011 8:43:07 AM , Rating: 1
"if there's one person who loves Apple as hard as I do"

Obvious troll is obvious. Idiot.

RE: Bias much?
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/5/2011 1:32:16 PM , Rating: 1
The facts are simple, Apple steals too.

By JackBurton on 10/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: Excellent
By Iaiken on 10/4/2011 11:09:15 AM , Rating: 5
Kind of like how Apple knew it ripped off Nokia and was forced to settle? Give me a break on this "Apple is the golden child" bulls***.

RE: Excellent
By raejae on 10/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: Excellent
By cjohnson2136 on 10/4/2011 11:17:47 AM , Rating: 2
Only because Apple started it. Had Apple not started the litigation then Samsung would not have done it.

RE: Excellent
By JackBurton on 10/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: Excellent
By cjohnson2136 on 10/4/2011 11:28:13 AM , Rating: 2
Show a pattern one instance is not an MO.

RE: Excellent
By Iaiken on 10/4/2011 11:47:01 AM , Rating: 5
Might be worth getting upset over if it weren't for over 70% of patents being either utter crap or stolen re-jigs.

There are natural language engines out there that were tasked with taking existing patents from the database and adding "over the internet" or "using your mobile phone" to existing patents. This effectively allowed them to steal ideas that weren't theirs.

Kind of like how Apple claims to have invented and subsequently patented multi-touch, when in reality it was invented by University of Toronto researchers in the 1980's.

Thanks to ridiculously lax software, design and technology patent rules, a single phone can have upwards of 50,000 patents applicable to it's design. As a result it has become practically every companies MO to simply ignore patents because of how ridiculous the system has become. They go to the market first, and then deal with the patent fallout as claims arise.

Now everyone has turned this broken system on it's head by attempting to block each other from the market because they are unwilling to capitulate. Apple has likely stolen from just about every single major technology firm that it hasn't cross licensed with and likely every single one of them has inadvertently stolen from Apple.

Hell, even if you just get into what Apple has stolen from it's own development community (and that of the jail breakers) I can think of over 20 ideas that Apple simply ripped off from people on the iPhone alone. In some cases, they even kept the icon and screen designs.

Get over it.

RE: Excellent
By Tony Swash on 10/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: Excellent
By bobvodka on 10/4/2011 11:41:45 AM , Rating: 4
Ah, so deceiving and confusing the consumer with devices which clearly have "Samsung" displayed on the front you mean?

Or contain an OS with a significantly different lock screen which goes to a significantly different home screen, maybe you mean that?

You hypothetical user would have to be blind and/or remarkably stupid not to notice this...

RE: Excellent
By Iaiken on 10/4/2011 11:56:02 AM , Rating: 4
You forgot the part where the widgets are sized to icon blocks and that some are re-sizeable.

My Tabs home screen has a search bar, whether network widget, rss news widget, calendar, gmail inbox, google+ feed... not a single actual fruity icon.

But that's Tony for you, all lies, half-truths, mischaracterizations and flawed logic. If it has feathers and flies, then it must be a duck, not an eagle, or a sparrow, or a woodpecker... definitely a duck.

RE: Excellent
By silverblue on 10/5/2011 8:52:54 AM , Rating: 2
I'm wondering why he's still allowed to post here, along with macdevdude. Maybe someone in DT needs their daily lulz?

RE: Excellent
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/4/2011 11:45:00 AM , Rating: 2
Right, because the word SAMSUNG stamped on the front isn't obvious enough that's not Apple. Get a life. Seriously.

RE: Excellent
By xti on 10/4/2011 12:30:41 PM , Rating: 2
you guys are being extremely naive to think that Samsung never thought "hey lets make it look similar to the leading product out there" and hopes to leech some image/brand recognition.

when you are on top, everyone aims for ya. how many angry bird knock off games are in app market places right now?

RE: Excellent
By Solandri on 10/4/2011 2:36:18 PM , Rating: 2
And you are being extremely naive jumping to the conclusion that because it looks similar to an iPad, Samsung must have copied. What's far more likely is that they saw how well the iPad was doing, and thought "Hey, let's go back to a design we came up with in 2006 and turn that into a tablet."

RE: Excellent
By theapparition on 10/4/2011 11:47:52 AM , Rating: 2
Show me a single consumer who would be confused between a minimalistic black rectangle and an iPhone (or iPad). The Apple brand is quite strong, and people under no circumstances would be confused by the "look" of two products. Now, if Samsung tried putting a pear with a bite out of it on the back, hid thier name from marketing literature, and tried to "pass it off" as an Apple product, then I'd agree with you. Instead, Samsung plasters thier name everywhere, and goes out of it's way to advertise that this is an Android device.

As it is, there is no customer confusion. Do you actually believe that a customer is going to walk into an AT&T store, see the two products (similarly priced, I might add), and figure they are the same? Or both Apple? C'mon, get real Tony.

Honestly, you wouldn't be "decieved" by such practices. Apparently, you think you are better than everyone else.

RE: Excellent
By xti on 10/4/11, Rating: 0
RE: Excellent
By darkhawk1980 on 10/4/2011 1:24:14 PM , Rating: 3
I think you need to be more open minded....

Consider back 10 years, when everyone had a flip phone. They were all similar, more or less. They flipped open, top part had a speaker with a small LCD screen, bottom had a keypad and a microphone.

Why didn't all the companies producing them back then sue each other? You want to know why? Because they knew they were all the same. What you really seem to forget is that you can't patent a look. Patenting a 'minimalistic' design gives you a monopoly, plain and simple. Your first retort will of course be, put more buttons on the front! Well, why should someone have to put more needless buttons on front? It's not needed. In fact, my current tablet has none. It's best that way. Plain and simple, it's a very easy way to corner the market. If that was the case, apple could file 2 patents, one with 'minimalistic design' and one with 'a fair design with numerous buttons'. This would exclude everyone from the market because there wouldn't be any designs that this wouldn't cover!

You say it's not black and white. You talk about it not being black and white. It really is. I understand Samsung makes something that looks similar, but it's a PHONE.

Lastly, on confusing apple products with samsung...I would think they would be concerned with confusing Fake apple products with apple products. Almost every phone out there has some manufacturer name stamped on the front of it. So, that being said, since when did "Samsung" turn into "Apple"? Oh, I know, it's the new Iphone Samsung 50004GSLTE!

Was that ridiculous enough for you? Probably not. Go back to making love with your fruit.

RE: Excellent
By xti on 10/4/11, Rating: 0
RE: Excellent
By kitonne on 10/4/2011 8:58:47 PM , Rating: 2
Having spent some time @ Moto, I can tell you that the microphone in the flip part is protected by a Moto patent, and NOBODY was allowed to do the same for free. There are a lot of phones out there which have a flip part with no electronics inside because of it :) (they have the mike next to the hinge, and it works well enough).

RE: Excellent
By Denigrate on 10/4/2011 12:03:14 PM , Rating: 2
Only problem is that Samsung is the premium product in all but name. Better hardware and software equal the win. That's why Samsung is quickly closing in on the #1 spot. Apple simply can't steal any more ideas to get back into the lead.

RE: Excellent
By nafhan on 10/4/2011 12:15:58 PM , Rating: 2
I guess your friends/relatives/acquaintances are a lot dumber than mine. I don't know of anyone stupid enough to pick up a box with the word Samsung across the top and think "I'm getting an Apple iPad!". I'd be really interested to see some evidence that anyone was deceived or confused into buying a Galaxy Tab when they meant to get an iPad.

People these days (even the ones that aren't computer savvy) are pretty good about brand recognition thanks to the never ending stream of advertising, etc. that we've all been exposed to since birth.

Apple is getting away with this stuff because of the way the legal system is structured. That's it. They're being more aggressive about it than other companies have been,
but in the end, it's just another business tactic. Ethics doesn't play into this at all.

I'm through with DailyTech
By drewtronics on 10/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: I'm through with DailyTech
By xti on 10/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: I'm through with DailyTech
By petrosy on 10/4/2011 7:09:07 PM , Rating: 1
So you are either stupid or this is your last forum post....which is it?

RE: I'm through with DailyTech
By phantom505 on 10/4/2011 12:33:04 PM , Rating: 2
I feed on nerd rage.

RE: I'm through with DailyTech
By macdevdude on 10/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: I'm through with DailyTech
By Jereb on 10/4/2011 6:17:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yes. If Mick was unbiased he would report that Samsung rips off Apple's products, which is reality, rather than try to explain what those patents are and trying to mislead the readers into anlyzing the topic themselves.

So instead of people having a discussion and making up their own minds on whether Samsung copied Apple, you would prefer journalists to only promote the product which you (personnaly) prefer. Do you not see the hypocrisy in your own words?

RE: I'm through with DailyTech
By Omega215D on 10/4/2011 8:36:28 PM , Rating: 2
Clearly Apple fans don't see this or that there is reason for some of the bashing on Apple as a company and their products as well.

It all started with those smug commercials, then came the smug consumer followers.

RE: I'm through with DailyTech
By silverblue on 10/5/2011 9:29:40 AM , Rating: 1
So, according to you, the readers aren't allowed to think for themselves...?

By cjohnson2136 on 10/4/2011 11:34:56 AM , Rating: 2
Exclusivity. Make so few people can get it at first and make other people want it more, then open it up to everyone.

By sprockkets on 10/4/2011 1:01:28 PM , Rating: 4
They wanted to make it easy for them to deploy.

That and Verizon didn't want to be apple's b|tch. Apparently they and Sprint are now, and it's sad what they'll do for such a POS phone.

By rhangman on 10/4/2011 1:28:38 PM , Rating: 2
Quote from Apple's lawyer:
"The main reason we are here is to prevent the [Galaxy Tab 10.1] launch and maintain the status quo."
Sounds like they want to maintain a monopoly to me.

By jiffylube1000 on 10/4/2011 1:42:06 PM , Rating: 2
"Apple claims that it owns sole rights internationally to make a rectangular glass multi-touch tablet with a "minimalist" design"

^ Does anyone else find this statement absurd? Since when is that something you can have the sole rights to?

By cjohnson2136 on 10/4/2011 1:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
That would be why many people are upset with Apple for doing this.

By adiposity on 10/4/2011 2:07:54 PM , Rating: 2
"Apple claims that it owns sole rights internationally to make a rectangular glass multi-touch tablet with a "minimalist" design"

^ Does anyone else find this statement absurd? Since when is that something you can have the sole rights to?

Has anyone checked whether Apple actually said that or if Jason just summarized it that way?

By Solandri on 10/4/2011 2:30:01 PM , Rating: 2
The design patent which was upheld in Germany to ban the Galaxy Tab is here:

Basically, the German court held that nobody is allowed to market a product which looks remotely like that. Slightly different dimensions, aspect ratios, or number of buttons (which were all true for the Galaxy Tab) don't matter. If it's similar, it's banned. Look at it and decide for yourself.

By adiposity on 10/4/2011 4:41:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but did Apple claim what Jason says they claimed?

If you want to say, they sued based on an overly broad (in my opinion) patent, then say that. Don't say, "Apple claims no one else can make a tablet" or some such statement that Apple didn't actually make.

The situation is bad enough as it is, without putting words in someone else's mouth. As far as I am concerned, you should be able to make an exact clone of something as long as you don't steal (patented) technology to do it.

On the other hand, there's no question Samsung's design and packaging mimic Apple's--which I think is fine. But let's not pretend it's just because it's "minimalist" and "rectangular."

By JasonMick on 10/4/2011 5:33:55 PM , Rating: 2
If you read Apple's court docs that have been made public they contain passages such as:
Before Apple’s introduction of the first iPhone product, no other company was offering a phone with these features. Prior mobile phones were often bulkier and contained physical keypads. Some had a rocker-style navigation button and sets of buttons for numbers and calling features. Others had a front panel with a partial or full QWERTY keyboard and a screen. None had the clean lines of the iPhone, which immediately caused it to stand apart from the competition.

It's clear from these passages that the company believes it holds exclusive rights to manufacture these minimalist designs.

They may not put it that bluntly, but that's essentially what they're arguing.

Remember, they're saying that Motorola, Samsung, and HTC's diverse minimalist tablet lineups are ALL in infringement of its IP. Clearly they believe ubiquitous ownership of minimalist designs.

By adiposity on 10/4/2011 5:48:18 PM , Rating: 2
This is a good quote. However, it doesn't constitute the whole of Apple's argument.

If you read their whole complaint, they spend a lot of time basically congratulating themselves on the work they did, and what they accomplished. Their point? Because of all that work, they deserve some consideration in their claims of copying. They are setting the stage for why Samsung's copycatting is so harmful to them.

Personally, I think it is crap, but at the same time, it is pretty obvious Samsung has been trying to make Apple-like products, and succeeding. Their boxes are very similar, and (some of) their phones look like Samsung versions of iPhones. It's not like it was an accident that their "minimalist" design is a lot like Apple's. That said, I just don't think Apple deserves any protection for the look of their device. The Apple logo, maybe, but that's about it.

By JasonMick on 10/4/2011 5:53:25 PM , Rating: 2
If you read their whole complaint, they spend a lot of time basically congratulating themselves on the work they did, and what they accomplished. Their point? Because of all that work, they deserve some consideration in their claims of copying. They are setting the stage for why Samsung's copycatting is so harmful to them.

Personally, I think it is crap, but at the same time, it is pretty obvious Samsung has been trying to make Apple-like products, and succeeding. Their boxes are very similar, and (some of) their phones look like Samsung versions of iPhones. It's not like it was an accident that their "minimalist" design is a lot like Apple's. That said, I just don't think Apple deserves any protection for the look of their device. The Apple logo, maybe, but that's about it.

But again, it's not just Samsung Apple claims that's copycatting it -- it's Motorola, it's HTC, too.

Again if you read the complaints in their entirety, long passages are devote to describing Apple's IP rights to the "simplicity" and "clean" looks of the iPad and iPhone. Essentially they are asserting that they own exclusive rights to a minimalist design.

You can argue semantics, but when they sue all three of the top minimalist Android tablet makers -- all of which have different sorts of designs, it's hard to come to any conclusion other than that.

By sleepeeg3 on 10/5/2011 1:07:10 AM , Rating: 2
Not seeing the word "minimalist" in quotes that you have attributed to Apple...

By JasonMick on 10/5/2011 8:02:16 AM , Rating: 2
Not seeing the word "minimalist" in quotes that you have attributed to Apple...
The German judge used the word "minimalist" to sum up Apple's more verbose design claims (see above).

Specifically, he stated:
"The court is of the opinion that Apple’s minimalistic design isn’t the only technical solution to make a tablet computer, other designs are possible. For the informed customer there remains the predominant overall impression that the device looks."

Apple use words like "clean" and "glass surface", etc. laid out over many sentences. The word minimalist concisely summarizes the design philosophy Apple is describing (as noted by the German judge) and laying legal claim to.

However, if Apple used this more phrase its legal documents would be a few pages less long and it can't have that.

Again, I've written all of this before, just go to the search bar and read my past coverage on the topic.

By adiposity on 10/5/2011 1:19:13 PM , Rating: 2
Well, there are other ways to go "minimalist" than the way Apple did it, but you make a good point otherwise.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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