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The Galaxy S (pictured) is outselling Apple's iPhone in Japan, but Apple hopes to change that by banning its competitor from the market.  (Source: Japan Now)

Those tricky devils! Somehow movie makers traveled back in time 37 years to infringe upon Apple's patented iPad design, which it fantasized in 2005, finally figuring out how to produce it commercially five years later.  (Source: Cinerama)
Samsung is outselling Apple, but Apple hopes lawyers will succeed in restricting market selection

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has a very big problem.  It can't compete with the superior hardware and broader selection of devices running Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android operating system.  But its large legal staff has devised a clever solution -- it will try to kill Android in court [1][2][3][4][5].

I. In the Court of the Rising Sun

Apple's quest to remove its competitor from the market has now taken it to the "Land of the Rising Sun", Japan.  In Japan, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics, top Android handset maker Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (SEO 005930) Galaxy S smartphone has been outselling Apple's iPhone.  But Apple's lawyers have a plot to change that situation.

News broke late yesterday that a couple weeks back Apple filed yet another lawsuit against Samsung, this time seeking to ban Japanese sales of the company's bestselling Galaxy S and Galaxy S II smartphones, as well as the new Galaxy Tab 7.7 tablet.

The new Japanese suit, filed Aug. 23, makes the familiar accusation that Samsung "slavishly" copied Apple's smart phones and tablets.  It seeks 100 million yen ($1.3M USD) in damages and a complete sales ban.  

Apple initiated the court battle, suing Samsung in multiple courts in the U.S., Australia, South Korea, and Europe.  Samsung responded by counter-suing in these regions.  It was in fact Samsung who struck first in Japan, filing suit in April.  Samsung is looking to fight fire with fire and is asking for a ban on iPhone and iPad sales.

Sources we've spoken to close to Samsung indicate that the device maker does not truly wish to restrict consumers selection, rather they hope that a potential sales ban would force Apple to drop its questionable lawsuits out of self-interest and let consumers decide which company's products are victorious.

II. Does Apple Own the Exclusive Right to Make Smart Phones and Tablets?

Apple claims to own exclusive rights to produce any modern smartphone or tablet, claiming ownership of all multi-touch in mobile devices and all thin, rectangular minimalist mobile device designs.

Apple has been granted design patents in many regions that appear to grant it sweeping ownership of minimalist tablet designs.  In short the patents declare Apple to own exclusive rights to making thin rectangular tablets with a minimalist single (homescreen) button design.  

Apple was granted the design patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2005.  Apple would not be able to produce its vision commercially until five years later in 2010.

Similarly, Apple claims to own exclusive rights to develop multi-touch devices.  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).  

III. Outlook for Apple's Plot is Mixed

Apple's plans may be in jeopardy given a recent Netherlands court ruling, the first major decision in the case.  The judge in that case rejected Apple's claims of owning exclusive rights to the tablet design and multi-touch as ridiculous.  He wrote, "There was no violation by Samsung on any of Apple's design or copyright..."

The judge essentially handed Samsung a victory, declaring that it only infringed on one minor patent that dealt with a feature in Android's Gallery application.  The verdict cleared Samsung to continue sales in Netherlands, much to Apple's chagrin.

Apple has succeed in securing temporary sales bans in Germany and Australia.  The Australian case will be decided September 26, while the German case should be decided tomorrow, September 9.

If Apple can't topple Android's top handset and tablet makers with lawsuits its hopes of being the market's top player look bleak.  Reports indicate that Android is outselling Apple nearly 5-to-2 globally, a gap which is widening with every passing month.  

Meanwhile Apple has seen its tablet market share plunge from approximately 94 percent to 61 percent in a year, while Android has risen from 3 percent to 30 percent over the same period.  Most expect Android to soon pass Apple in tablet market share as Apple continues to stick to limited product selection (just a single product in the tablet market, in fact) and a sluggish release schedule (one new design per year).


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Genius..
By nocturne_81 on 9/8/2011 10:37:14 AM , Rating: 5
It continually amazes me how adept Apple's legal tactics have been. Recently, they've entirely avoided traditional courts, instead relying on 'trade courts' in order to block the import of Samsung products on merit alone; rather than head into a traditional court capable of invalidating their invalid patents...

Sheer genius! You really have to applaud these $##holes... They've relied on nothing but clever rhetoric and doctored evidence -- yet they've still managed to get Samsung Galaxy products pulled from Germany, Australia, and the Nederlands. These are small markets, though; and I really doubt Apple's legal tactics will gain much ground here in the US -- but who knows! I never would have thought they would have made it this far..




RE: Genius..
By cjohnson2136 on 9/8/2011 10:54:45 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
yet they've still managed to get Samsung Galaxy products pulled from Germany, Australia, and the Nederlands.


Samsung was not pulled from Nederlands. Just the other have they been banned.


RE: Genius..
By superPC on 9/8/2011 11:04:39 AM , Rating: 2
and let's just hope the other court decision mimic netherland ( http://www.dailytech.com/UPDATED+Netherlands+Judge... for those who forgot). that will teach apple a lesson and invalidate some of their patent. hopefully that will make them think twice before trying to do something like this again.


RE: Genius..
By nocturne_81 on 9/8/2011 12:02:58 PM , Rating: 2
I was under the impression that Galaxy tabs were indeed banned from the Nederlands. As that article states:
quote:
It does ban sales and marketing of Samsung's Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" devices, as it find them solely in violation of patent EP '648.


RE: Genius..
By InfinityzeN on 9/8/2011 2:45:39 PM , Rating: 2
"The judge goes on to write "...de kennelijk eenvoudig door haar uit te voeren aanpassing...", "meaning: it should be easy to technically circumvent the one patent it (Samsung) was found to violate.""

"Samsung representatives reportedly told Tweakers.net that they would be removing the scrolling feature from their smart phones, which should allow them to continue sales and marketing in the Netherlands."

Any delay will be very very short.


RE: Genius..
By Solandri on 9/8/2011 3:46:56 PM , Rating: 2
Just to clarify, the one patent the Netherlands judge found valid has to do with scrolling between pictures in Samsung's gallery (photo browser) app. All other claims by Apple were thrown out. Tweaking the gallery app to scroll differently by the late September deadline should be trivial. Apple lost in the Netherlands pretty handily.


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