x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Global patent battle not over despite Apple's legal victories versus Samsung and Google

Apple scored three legal victories in a week that still leaves unclear whether the iPhone maker will be the victor in global patent battles over technology that's transformed everyday lives.

Apple scored three legal victories in a week that still leaves unclear whether the iPhone maker will be the victor in global patent battles over technology that's transformed everyday lives.

A US trade agency on August 9 issued an import ban that prevents Apple's chief competitor, Samsung, from selling devices in the US that infringe two Apple patents. A week earlier, president Barack Obama's administration overturned a similar ban won by Samsung against some of Apple's older iPhone 4s. In between, a US appeals court revived Apple's patent case against Google's Motorola Mobility.

"It is a worldwide fight, and I don't think any one company can declare international victory," said Jeff Lewis, a patent lawyer with Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in New York. "We've seen a lot of split decisions."

All of the companies are vying for a bigger share of the US$293.9 billion market, which increased 34 per cent last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Samsung is the world's biggest manufacturer, while it vies with Apple for leadership in the US market.

Some Samsung devices infringe two Apple patents for multitouch features and headphone jack detection, while newer devices work around those patents, the US International Trade Commission said in a notice posted on its website August 9. The trade agency cleared Samsung of infringing patents for the design of the iPhone, and both sides declared they were the bigger winner.

"The ITC has joined courts around the world in Japan, Korea, Germany, Netherlands and California by standing up for innovation and rejecting Samsung's blatant copying of Apple's products," Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, said in an interview. "Protecting real innovation is what the patent system should be about."

The six-member trade commission found that Samsung had infringed the feature patent for a multitouch screen that names the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as one of the inventors, and another for detecting when headphone jacks are plugged in.

While saying it was disappointed with the exclusion order, Samsung applauded being cleared of infringing Apple's design patents, which would have been harder to work around.

"Apple has been stopped from trying to use its overbroad design patents to achieve a monopoly on rectangles and rounded corners," Adam Yates, a Samsung spokesman, said.

"The proper focus for the smartphone industry is not a global war in the courts, but fair competition in the marketplace," Mr Yates said. "Samsung will continue to launch many innovative products, and we have already taken measures to ensure that all of our products will continue to be available in the United States."

 

* Bloomberg News