Technology

This Epic Patent Battle Between Two Big Tech Brands Now Over

Apple Samsung patent battle
Activedia / Pixabay

The tech world will surely miss this – the Apple-Samsung patent battle. Yes, it’s true, both the smartphone makers have finally settled their seven-year-long patent fight, which revolved around whether Samsung copied the iPhone or not.

Why settling now?

Judge Lucy Koh – in a court filing on Wednesday – said that both Apple and Samsung informed that they had reached a settlement. The settlement terms, however, were not revealed. Also, there have been no comments from either of the companies over the settlement.

Apple, however, did point to its statement made last month. “This case has always been about more than money,” the company said at the time. “Apple ignited the smartphone revolution with iPhone and it is a fact that Samsung blatantly copied our design. It is important that we continue to protect the hard work and innovation of so many people at Apple.”

As of now, it is not very clear why all of a sudden both of the companies decided to end the seven-year-long patent battle. It is well understood that money was never an issue for both. Instead, both continued the battle for their reputation as innovators. However, after so many years of wasted time, money and efforts, both probably realized that it was finally time to end this dispute and focus on more important matters. Apple previously reached separate settlements with search giant Google and Taiwanese tech firm HTC.

“The sumo wrestlers have tired of the wrestling match,” Paul Berghoff, a patent lawyer with McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff in Chicago, told Bloomberg. “They both were tired and happy to stop paying the outside lawyers. We may never know who blinked first, who made the call.”

Apple-Samsung patent battle – reputation at stake

The Apple-Samsung patent battle started in 2011. The initial ruling came in favor of Apple, where it was awarded damages worth $1 billion. However, the battle continued as both the companies kept coming up with more patent infringement claims. The Apple-Samsung patent battle revolved around several design and utility patents for basic functions like tap to zoom and app layout, but the crux was always if Samsung copied iPhone.

The jury, also, in several ways did find that the Korean firm had in fact copied the iPhone. Most recently, a ruling of $539 million came in favor of Apple. Though the Korean firm filed an appeal against it earlier this month, both reached an agreement before it could be contested.

The Apple-Samsung patent battle was one of the most intense smartphone wars. On the one hand, Apple accused the Korean firm of “slavishly” mimicking the iPhone design, on the other, Samsung called Apple a “jihadist.” The battle, where their reputations as innovators was at stake, cost both the companies hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees.

In another Apple-Samsung patent battle, which ended only last year, Apple was awarded $120 million for violation of its slide-to-unlock patent and several others. Both were also locked in several patent fights outside the U.S., but in 2014, they settled those lawsuits as well.

Qualcomm still a worry for Apple

Apple might have settled its patent dispute with Samsung, but it has one more important patent dispute to attend to. The iPhone maker and the mobile-chip designer Qualcomm are involved in a multibillion-dollar legal battle over the patent royalties. Along with Apple and Qualcomm, this patent battle is also of interest to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Apple’s contract manufacturers.

Apple sued Qualcomm in three countries following reports that the chip maker is charging increased royalties for the use of its tech. Also, there were reports that the chip maker has asked Apple to share a certain percentage of their iPhone’s revenue in exchange for the use of Qualcomm patents.

Apple has sued Qualcomm for $1 billion in the U.S., and $145 million in China. On the other hand, the chip maker has also filed countersuits, and wants to ban the sale of some of the iPhone models in the U.S. and China. Apple, on its part, is claiming that Qualcomm is following an illegal business model by demanding patent royalties on every wireless device equipped with its chips. Further, the iPhone maker claims that at least some of the Qualcomm patents in question are invalid.

On Wednesday, Apple shares closed down 0.15% at $184.16.