As of today, in most of the patent lawsuits against Android around the world, Apple seems to have an upper hand.
The Jury is still out on the most high-profile of them– Apple vs Samsung in California – and Apple deserves to win on all the trade dress and design patent issues there. Samsung simply went too far making Galaxy S and Galaxy S2 look just like an iPhone.
But that’s design.
We are talking about utility patents covering basic smartphone functions here. And there’re few things more basic than smartphone connecting and using high-speed mobile data network. With LTE development starting in 2004 from NTT Docomo proposal and ending in a standard in 2009, it is safe to say – Apple had very little to do with it.
In fact, according to Daum, Samsung, LG and Ericsson own 60% of LTE patents worldwide.
And we didn’t even mention such mobile heavy-weights at the time as Nokia, Motorola (Google), or RIM.
And you thought chipmaker cross-licenses Apple is getting from suppliers to iPhone 5 will protect it from counter suits?
Even with FRAND (Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory) terms that apply to standard essential patents, there’s a whole new set of licenses to acquire on top of standard 3G stuff Apple is fighting against now. And it seems that chip makers that get their wares into LTE iPhone can give very little protection. Especially when you know that even today they haven’t agreed how to do voice over LTE networks…
Watching all those Apple’s lawsuits against Samsung over the last few years, I always thought, WTF?! Hey Sammy, just settle on utility/functionality patents, and pay whatever for design stupidity/malice. It’s worth it. How stupid Samsung should be to prolong this malaise.
But maybe there is a method to Samsung’s madness?
At the time 3G standards were developed, Samsung was this small Korean OEM trying to learn how to make competitive mobile phones. And they still have those 3G essential patents they are trying to lob against Apple. With 4G LTE – Samsung was a major force with a huge R&D department, intimately involved in standard development process. And now owns a bunch of LTE patents Apple can not get around.
So all we’ve seen in Apple vs Samsung up to now might be a warm up. Samsung telling Apple:
“C’mon, you think you can win? Let’s see. But even if you win the first round, wait until we go after your iPhone 5 LTE!”