Inc. (AAPL) is currently riding high on its victory over
rival Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (SEO 005930) in Germany. German
courts sided with Apple and banned sales of Samsung's tablets, as they say Apple owns
exclusive rights to minimalist tablet designs. As reports indicate that
Samsung is currently the only major Android company currently coming close to
rivaling Apple in sales, Apple for now enjoys a court-enforced monopoly on the
tablet market for the time being.
motherboard, CPU, and chipset maker VIA Technologies, Inc. (TPE:2388) has just filed suit in U.S. Federal Court in
Delaware, seeking to ban sales of Apple's iPad and iPhone, which it says
infringe upon three of its U.S. patents. VIA is also seeking damages and
has asked for a trial by jury.
VIA writes, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by Bloomberg,
"The products at issue generally concern microprocessors included in a
variety of electronic products such as certain smartphones, tablet computers,
portable media players and other computing devices."
The company seems in good position to see success. The Delaware court is
known as a plaintiff friendly region, akin to the Eastern District Federal
Court of Texas.
For VIA the suit is somewhat personal, as the company has close ties to
"patent poor" HTC Corp. (SEO:066570), a recent target of Apple's intellectual
property aggression. VIA recently sold its S3 Graphics subsidiary to HTC for $300M USD.
VIA had already won a lawsuit against Apple for patents held by S3 -- HTC
is now using that victory to try to force Apple to cross license the IP that
would allow it to continue to sell Android tablets and smartphones in the U.S.
and other regions.
with Samsung, HTC, Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V),or Google, Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Motorola Mobility, VIA likely does
not make any products that Apple can target in countersuits.
Apple started the patent war last year by suing HTC claiming
infringements on various technology patents (such as interrupt-based processor
undervolting) and its iPad/iPhone design patents. Since then the war has
swept the globe, reaching WWII-esque proportions. On one side sits
Samsung, Google, and HTC (and effectively, VIA); on the other side sits Apple.
The Android team has been arming themselves. Aside from the S3
acquisition, Google's purchase of Motorola served to consolidate
the manufacturers patents for use by the greater Android coalition. And
Google recently purchased 1,000 patents from International Business
Machines, Inc. (IBM) to further aid in the defense of
The escalation poses significant risk to Apple's bottom line. While
there's a small chance the company will be able to leverage the lawsuits to
retain tablet market dominance and regain dominance in the smartphone sector,
there's a strong possibility that the plan make backfire. If the Android
allies win their countersuits , Apple may see its own products banned.
Furthermore, many have suggested that Apple's campaign may be hurting Apple's "cool"
brand image. After all, as one top blogger told DailyTech,
"It's hard to seem cool when you're suing everybody."