Apple sues Samsung for copyright infringement

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Apple is suing Samsung for allegedly copying its iPhone and iPad devices in its products, specifically Samsung’s Galaxy range. The lawsuit was filed
last Friday, April 15, and claims Samsung has infringed Apple’s copyright and patents. Apple consider that Samsung has copied the ‘look and feel’ of both its iPad and iPhone.

Samsung fight back

However, Samsung is fighting back and claiming on the ground that its products are the result of extensive internal research and development. In its statement the company said: ‘Samsung’s development of core technologies and strengthening our intellectual property portfolio are keys to our continued success’. Samsung intends to actively fight the lawsuits ‘through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property’.

Apple’s complaint

By comparing iPhone 3GS and the Samsung Galaxy 4G the similarities in appearance and style is noticeable. The Apple spokeswoman Kristen Huguet said: ‘This kind of blatant copying is wrong and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.’

Apple’s complaint claims that ‘rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products’.

This lawsuit could have a significant impact on the relationship of the two companies. Samsung currently supplies Apple with microchips used in Apple’s products and also memory chips which are used in Macbook Pro computers. According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung gets £3.7 billion in 2010 from Apple, therefore making up a significant amount of Samsung’s revenue. However, Samsung has now become a competitor to Apple. Samsung’s Galaxy range uses Google’s android system, which competes directly with Apple’s own mobile software.

Apple’s other lawsuits

It is not only Samsung that Apple is issuing lawsuits against. Apple is currently involved in lawsuits against both HTC and Nokia where Apple is fighting for HTC Smartphone and some Nokia devices to be banned from import into the US. Apple claims this is because both companies are infringing its patents. However, Apple is struggling in both these lawsuits after the ITC suggested both cases should be dropped. The outcome of the cases will not be known until June this year. Currently Android’s market share has been growing. The BBC reports a 58% growth in the Smartphone market, with Android counting for 39% of this growth. Analyst John Park states that Apple’s suits against Android phones ‘is more like a symbolic move by Apple that it is quite serious about rivals advancing, and is trying to hold back close competitors’

In Tim Webber’s analysis on the BBC website about this case, he claims that for mobile phone companies, being sued for copyright infringement can be seen as a ‘badge of honour’ as it shows that their products are considered a threat. Currently Samsung is the only real threat to Apple in the tablet area, so Apple’s allegations against the company may be seen as an acknowledgement of that threat and trying to eliminate it.