Apple vs. Samsung: Who really owns the big patents in your smartphone?


By Joshua Ostrer

The battle between two of the biggest smartphone makers in the world has begun to heat up; sparked by patent disputes. Samsung will now be forced to pay Apple $1.052 billion as a result.

Patent disputes have been a persistent element in the developing computing sector since its existence. The search giant Google acquired Motorola, a phone manufacturer, for $12.5 billion largely for patents held by Motorola last August.

One of the most persistent patent disputes has been between Apple and Samsung, either claiming to have originally or independently created different elements of the extremely profitable smart phone.

And on August 24, after three days and a jury faced with answering 700 questions in a United States court, the jury ruled that Samsung had violated numerous patents held by Apple and would be forced to pay $1,051,850,000. And with all of Samsung’s claims denied, it has become the widespread opinion that this is a sweeping victory for Apple.

Apple was found to have violated none of Samsung’s patents throughout the extensive counter-suit made by Samsung. Samsung will recieve nothing.

However, the fight is not over. Not only will deliberations in the United States continue until the end of December, but the court will decide if Samsung can successfully appeal the verdict, or if Apple can triple the payout due to the jury finding that Samsung “willfully” impinged on their patents.

Sadly, rumors that “Samsung paid Apple the $1,000,000,000 fine by sending 30 trucks filled with nickels” were untrue. Not only would such a transportation require thousands of trucks, but the post-trial deliberations postpone any actual payment, most likely until 2013.

Huge verdicts like this one also force consumers to ask “how will this affect the phone in my hand?” The answer: For the most part, not really.

This is because most of the 26 Samsung phones that were found to violate the patents aren’t even on the market anymore and the Galaxy Nexus and Samsung Galaxy S II are not included within the trial.

Samsung has released that it is working with US developers to remove any possible patent infringements for the future. Google has issued press releases saying its Android operating software is unaffected by the trial’s verdict.

This isn’t even the first battle between the two companies. Just days before the conclusion of the trial in the United States, a South Korean court ruled that both Apple and Samsung have violated each other’s patents, forcing Apple to pay the equivalent of $17,650 and Samsung to pay $22,000, also banning sales of the Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPad 2, and Samsung’s Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Tab, and Galaxy 10.1.

The two companies will continue to battle, having court dates in both Germany, which has already halted the sale of numerous Apple products, and the Netherlands. The Dutch trial having began only three days ago.

What the outcome of these ongoing patent disputes will be is uncertain. More severe court rulings could lead to complete injunctions of phones on the market, or drastic changes to the way these slightly different phones operate.

However, as of yet, no such ruling has been made; as courts appear resistant to deal a crippling blow to either smartphone developer. For now, all that’s left to do is wait and see, and hope your smartphone doesn’t get pulled from the market just yet.


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