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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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What really upsets people
By Tony Swash on 9/8/2011 12:34:53 PM , Rating: -1
What really upsets people is that Apple aren't pussies anymore. They stopped being losers a while back and started playing hardball and winning and it drives people potty. Despite all the Google Android efforts the 18 month old iPhone 4 is still the top selling handset and the looming iPhone will take Apple's phone sales to new heights. After doubling in size over the last year Apple will probably double again next year.

Back in the desktop era the whole industry leeched off Apple for its R&D and Apple, run by bozos back then, let them. It must have enraged Steve Jobs, watching from his exile, and I am sure he was determined that if he ever got another shot with Apple that he wouldn't let it happen again. He did get another shot and Apple morphed into an innovation machine chewing up product sector after product sector with startling new devices. But this time around Apple wants to stop others copying them. And so they play hard on the patent front.

Good. Copying is bad for innovation.

And it looks like Oracle are going to take the dunces from Google to the cleaners for ripping stuff off and not even bothering to be discrete about it. This time next year Android could have the highest OS licence fees in the mobile business.

RE: What really upsets people
By MrBlastman on 9/8/2011 12:41:53 PM , Rating: 2
blah blah blah, correction:

startling new devices

Make that:

startling new prices

RE: What really upsets people
By theapparition on 9/8/2011 1:09:39 PM , Rating: 4
Good. Copying is bad for innovation.

Exactly right. How dare other manufacturers steal the idea for 4 wheels, an engine and windshield for the automobile.

I mean, automotive innovation has completely stagnated since 1914.

Oh, and since you've convienently forgot:

Good artists copy, great artists steal. We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas. - Steve Jobs, 1996

And it looks like Oracle are going to take the dunces from Google to the cleaners for ripping stuff off and not even bothering to be discrete about it. This time next year Android could have the highest OS licence fees in the mobile business.

Actually, Google has somewhat fortified thier position and Oracle is somewhat backing down, since Google has possesion of written communication between themselves and Sun about Java integration into Android, all without any license fees.

RE: What really upsets people
By Tony Swash on 9/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: What really upsets people
By nocturne_81 on 9/8/2011 6:49:33 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know what bizarro world you live in..

First of all, the infringing code was taken from java from the linux apache distribution, which is open source and for which Sun supplied the Java code for wishing for it to be used openly.

Secondly, Sun openly invited Google to do as they did, and were incredibly excited that Android went the java route.

What Oracle is doing is plainly wrong and immoral. This would be the equivalent of Google suspending all the licensing of Motorola modem tech patents for any component that ends up in an Apple product, and refuse to let them use said patents no matter what the licensing cost. It would not only be wrong, and I'm sure completely illegal, but you can't deny that it would instantly kill the iPhone completely.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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