Apple is making no bones about their belief that Android manufacturers have been "slavishly" copying them. And they have stopped at nothing – not even faking documents, more than once – over the past several months to fight for their intellectual property, creating a trail of very unhappy consumers and companies in their wake. Such companies are now rolling up their sleeves, waiting to pounce on the iPhone 5 when it launches.
In some cases, Apple has a very valid point and I stand behind them. The original Galaxy S does look a lot like the iPhone, and even earlier versions of Samsung's custom Android interface, TouchWiz, is remarkably similar to Apple's iOS. But HTC? Motorola? Or even Samsung with their Galaxy Tab 10.1? They have all been victims of Apple's misuse of patents, otherwise known as patent trolling, in their attempt to stifle the onslaught of Android.
Apple's most recent victory – the indefinite banning of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany on the grounds that "other designs are possible" – is what appears to be the last straw for Samsung. They are now exploring all available legal options, the first of which is targeting the iPhone 5 as soon as it lands in Korea. The quote from Korea Times, coming from an unnamed Samsung exec, says:
"Just after the arrival of the iPhone 5 here, Samsung plans to take Apple to court here [in Korea] for its violation of Samsung’s wireless technology related patents," and, "For as long as Apple does not drop mobile telecommunications functions, it would be impossible for it to sell its i-branded products without using our patents. We will stick to a strong stance against Apple during the lingering legal fights."
Of course, being Samsung's base of operations, they have the home field advantage there. They know how the system works; a victory is all but certain. According to Reuters, however, Ol' Sammy could be seeking an injunction against the iPhone 5 in parts of Europe, too. No specific countries were listed, but we have a pretty good idea where they might start. And I wouldn't be surprised to see Samsung take the battle back to Australia either. Korea Times states, "At least 23 lawsuits are pending between Apple and Samsung in such countries as France, Japan, Germany, Korea and the United States and more are expected in an increasing number of states."
Miyoung Kim of Reuters says, "Apple sold 20.3 million iPhones in the second quarter and Samsung shipped just one million units less than that." A granted injunction across several European countries and in Korea would be a bittersweet victory for Android and Samsung. Lest we forget that Samsung still supplies Apple with several components for tablets and phones. So in turn, they are also hurting themselves. But what about a victory in the United States? That would be crucial blow to Apple in terms of sales, momentum and morale.
Apple missed their annual schedule of an iPhone in the summer months; it has been well over a year since they launched a new iPhone. They are now banking on their next generation iPhone being a hit. An injunction would almost certainly mean rain on their parade. It would also mean kissing any hopes of 25 million iPhone 5s sold before the end of the year goodbye.
It still isn't clear what these 23 pending lawsuits are, or which side they're from, but either way they could strongly affect the launch and success of the iPhone 5, the upcoming Nexus, the Galaxy S II line and even the Galaxy Tabs in the States and around the rest of the world. As Google steps in and teams up with its partners, it appears as if Apple may have bitten off more than they can chew.
Personally, I wish this whole patent tiff would blow over already. Companies should go back to innovating to thrive rather than pulling those who are innovating down with them. Less competition is never a good thing for consumers. I can't say I fully support Samsung on throwing some punches back at Apple, but someone needs to stand up to them. Who knows, maybe an injunction on the iPhone 5 could put an end this ongoing battle. Apple could use a little humility, for once.
Could a hit to Apple's iPhone 5 settle the score once and for all? Or will it blow up in Samsung's face and take patent battles to an entirely new level? Will any of this even matter six months from now? Sound off below!
Image via Mac Life