A fair number of our readers can probably claim allegiance to either Apple or Samsung when it comes to cell phone technology. Everybody, it seems, has their own preferences, but whether you have an iPhone or an Android, you largely get the same type of product. Part of the similarity, though, is undoubtedly because companies tend to feed off one another when building competitive new products.
As an ongoing dispute between Apple and Samsung shows, though, companies have to be mindful of potential patent infringement. Last month, Apple and Samsung filed a joint statement in a California district court announcing their agreement to try to work out the dispute in court-supervised mediation. The mediation, which is scheduled for next month, will involve the issue of what damages are appropriate for Apple in compensation for patent infringement.
The allegations of infringement deal with various design patents, but the central issue was the design of Apple’s electronic devices. In one of the patents Apple secured to protect its iPhone technology from competition, Apple ideentifies features such as the use of a “home button, rounded corners and tapered edges” as well as “on-screen icons.” Some of these features have made their way into Samsung products.
The litigation on which the mediation is based resulted in a $1.05 million damages award for Samsung’s design patent infringements. Last month, Apple won an appeal on the issue of whether monetary damages were sufficient compensation for the infringements. The appellate court said they aren’t, and that Apple has the right to force Samsung to stop marketing products using the technology. It remains to be seen whether the companies be able to come to terms in mediation, but it is safe to say that both companies are likely to have a hard time making concessions given the high demand for the technology at issue.
Businesses in the technology industry have a fierce interest in protecting their own innovation and make liberal use of patents to do so. Patent disputes are part and parcel of protecting a business’ place within the industry. For business’, it is important to work with experienced legal counsel not only to protect its intellectual property, but also to enforce these protections when they are infringed.
Apple Insider, “Apple, Samsung agree to mediate California patent dispute,” Mikey Campbell, Sept. 28, 2015.
Apple Insider, “Apple wins key patent appeal vs. Samsung, could bar features from future Galaxy devices,” Neil Hughes, Sep. 17, 2015.
Patently Apple, “Apple Wins 9 Detailed iPhone 6 Design Patents that could Pack a Punch in Court Should Samsung’s S6 Design Cross the Line,” Feb. 7, 2015.