While the patent war between Apple and Samsung at first glance may seem like each side is accusing the other of stealing their designs, on a deeper level, this trial can have massive implications on many other tech giants, the most significant one being Google.
What was the War for Apple vs. Samsung?
With Apple seeking over $2.5 billion in damages from Samsung, a win in Apple’s favor could even see Samsung’s most successful products such as the Galaxy tab and Google Nexus being pulled out of the shelves. But it’s not just about Apple’s superficial claims that Samsung’s devices are designed to look a lot like its own iPhone and iPad.
Samsung’s devices operate on Google’s Android system, which has recently made news by becoming the best smartphone OS in the world. This recent rise in popularity can be some cause of concern to Apple. However, this trial isn’t the first instance of Apple going against the search engine giant. Instead of going up directly against Google, Apple chose to sue its Android partners, like it did with HTC in March 2010 and then Samsung in April 2011. Google’s OS even finds mention in Steve Jobs’ autobiography in which he called Android “a stolen product”.
Some of the patents that Apple has claimed Samsung’s infringement on are directly related to the software’s features, i.e. Android’s features. Android, like the iOS, offers a touch screen based user interface and also offers unified search capabilities through the Google search box.
Google’s Role in the Picture
But why has Apple chosen to go against handset manufacturers instead of Google directly? It is possible that Apple has chosen this indirect route because it can seek more money in financial damages from manufacturers who sell their products directly to consumers. By filing cases against Samsung and HTC, Apple could even get the International Trade Commission to act swiftly and rule to block the sale of devices that infringe on its patented designs.
Even though the trial is between Apple and Samsung, and there is not yet any reason for Google to get involved directly, insiders have indicated that Google’s legal representatives will be keeping a close eye on the trial proceedings. Google has also offered support to its technology partners that have been sued by Apple, providing legal consultation on what internal company documents ought to be disclosed during the course of trial.
Google’s name has already been officially dragged into the trial, due to Apple’s submission of an e-mail about a meeting held in 2010 between Google and Samsung to discuss the design of Samsung’s tablets. According to this e-mail, Google indicated its concerns about the similarity in design to Apple’s products, which it recommended Samsung should rectify. However, Apple has claimed that such warnings were ignored by Samsung that went on to create the Galaxy Tabs.
The trial between Apple and Samsung started on Monday, July 30, 2012 in San Jose. Day 1 of the trial saw the selection of a 10-member jury, which includes an insurance agent, an AT&T project manager, an unemployed gamer, a systems engineer, a benefits and payroll manager working with startup firms, and a store operations manager at a cycle retail outlet. Surprisingly, the jury pool even included a Google employee as well as an Apple employee, both of whom were excused.