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  (Source: Warner Bros.)
Slow pace is killing Apple's efforts to legally damage Samsung, HTC, and Motorola

Another week is passing by, and Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has seen its hopes in yet another anti-Android court trial slip through its fingers.  Last week saw Judge Richard A. Posner, a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge who moonlighted in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois(Chicago), toss Apple and Motorola Mobility's (a Google Inc. (GOOGsubsidiarysuits/countersuits out of court.  

I. No Ban For You

Now across the country, his peer Northern District of California (San Jose/San Francisco) Judge Lucy Koh has ruled on a crucial decision in Apple's legal war with Android -- whether to put in place a ban that would spoil perhaps Android's biggest summer blockbuster launch -- the Samsung Galaxy S III.

The news was not what Apple was hoping for.

After hearing arguments from top Android smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) and Apple's legal teams, Judge Koh announced that she would not rule on whether to grant a preliminary injunction on the Galaxy S III ahead of its June 21 launch.
 

The Samsung Galaxy S III
 
The ruling is a blow to Apple.  Apple earlier this week announced iOS 6, which disappointed some in lacking the major graphical overhaul/refreshing that Google and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have delivered in their recent builds.  Aside from its increasingly dated UI, Apple has not yet announced when it will ship its next generation iPhone.  The general expectation is that it will see a July launch.

That would place it roughly a month behind Samsung's flagship model in the U.S. market.  Apple was hoping to eliminate Samsung's head start with a court-enforced injunction, but its lawyers’ pleas fell on deaf ears.

II. Apple Faces Vanishing Hopes of Worthwhile Victory

Google spokesman Jim Prosser complained in a statement to Reuters that "vague" patents by Apple and others are creating a legal mess in the smartphone industry.  Kristin Huguet, spokeswoman for Apple, reiterated her complaint that Android phonemakers were guilty of "blatant" copying.

But Brian Love, a professor at Stanford Law School, says that ultimately Google is winning by not losing, while Apple is losing by seeing its cases bog down to a sluggish crawl through the court system.  He comments, "The stalemate is much more of a victory for the accused infringers than it is for Apple."

Paul Berghoff, a seasoned Chicago-based patent attorney with McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff (not involved in the case), echoes, "If Apple's goal still is the Steve Jobs holy war, then the status quo is not in their benefit."

Even Apple's own attorney, Josh Krevitt, sounded frustrated in a hearing last week, remarking, "Samsung is always one step ahead, launching another product and another product."

Android doll
Google has been a mean machine, trashing foes in court. [Image Source: ZuperDZigh]

Increasingly, Apple is looking like Wile E. Coyote to Samsung's Roadrunner, constantly seeing its competitor escape its sluggish legal deathtraps.  That's a disturbing trend for a company whose late co-founder ordered it to spend every penny it had to "destroy" Android in "thermonuclear war."

Apple is increasingly looking like it may be doomed to follow in the line of Oracle Corp. (ORCL), who at one point hoped to squeeze $6B USD from Google on claims of Java infringement in Android.  At the end of the day, a pair of court victories in a jury trial absolved Google of most infringement claims, while finding it guilt of only a handful of infringements, which will likely lead to trivial workarounds and only a few million in damages -- not exactly a worthwhile outcome in such a massive legal crusade.  Apple has not commented on the Oracle case, but it surely has watched concerned as Google legally demolished its accuser's claims.

Sources: U.S. District Court, Northern District of California [PDF], Reuters



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RE: Meanwhile Apple Copies Android...
By nolisi on 6/13/2012 3:21:58 PM , Rating: 5
Let's contextualize here:

1) Apple did not create anything unique in the iPhone. At best, it was a new OS with design factors from a variety of already existing products on the market. iOS is the most unique part of the iPhone as cell phones, touch screens, mobile apps, and multitouch existed long before Apple got into the market.

2)Google contracts with HTC, a company with a very long history of creating mobile devices with touch screens (mostly Windows devices, but they also created devices with their own OS, ie, the sidekick) to build the T-Mobile G1 with T-Mo as a partner.

While pople like to point out the direction/feature changes that may have made Android more iOS-like, the T-Mobile G1 is an HTC/T-Mobile product, and had features that Apple actively refuses to integrate into iOS, and are hallmarks of HTC's history with phones (physical keyboard, direction pads, expandable SD storage, etc).

It bothers me that the dialogue has skewed on the subject of the OS rather than the whole product. HTC has created touch screen devices capable of much more than Apple is willing to design into iPhone.

But more than that, HTC even had an App store in its Sidekick- which is why you don't see any lawsuits against Android makers for Google Play. This is a big money maker and Apple claims innovation on the App store, yet not one lawsuit has come about regarding this- they're sticking to trivial UI elements rather than major development efforts.

Ultimately the picture comes out much different than "Adroid copied iOS." There is absolutely nothing wrong with Google redesigning their OS to allow HTC hardware to better compete in a market it already exists in. Apple just doesn't like the fact that all its competitors are allowed to use Android to compete.


RE: Meanwhile Apple Copies Android...
By Mint on 6/13/2012 6:37:04 PM , Rating: 2
Even though I agree with you, the iPhone was still revolutionary.

It put all those things together into a cohesive whole that nobody else had the foresight or cajones to pull off. It redefined the smartphone industry. Sure, their loyal and affluent clientele is an advantage that nobody else had, but they earned it with the iPod (which, again, did everything right). A lot of Apple products are overpriced, but from its introduction up to maybe some time in the past year, the iPhone has been the best overall smartphone on the market. I've never owned one, but I just can't hate on it.

Having said that, there's nothing worth a patent there, and more to the point, none of the iPhone's innovations would be stymied even if there was no patent system at all. Apple made $100's of billions off the iPhone simply by being first, staying ahead, and doing everything well. That's all the reward from society that they deserve, not a 20 year monopoly where nobody else is allowed to make a competing product. Android's arrival is exactly how the market should work.


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