Apple vs the world

Macworld Australia Staff
6 July, 2012
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Injunctions, appeals and patents, oh my! Apple has been busy this week battling it out in courtrooms around the world. From attempting to block imitation products from mass markets, to overturning stern judges’ decisions and cementing patents to keep its technology safe from prying eyes and replicating fingers, it seems the company’s legal woes have only just begun.

Let’s cap off Apple’s judiciary  week that was…

Apple and the great Samsung Galaxy Tab/Nexus debate

Whether you support Samsung, its products, or the validity of its ‘original’ designs, you can’t help but feel for the company, whose attempts to sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Nexus smartphone in the US have been blocked at every turn by Apple and the courts.

This week Samsung’s misfortune kicked off with the company’s latest bid to hold an Apple-sought injunction against its Galaxy Tab 10.1 while it prepared an appeal denied in a district US court. Samsung was hoping to delay the injunction against the Galaxy Tab handed down by Judge Lucy Koh the week before. Samsung has one more chance to lift the injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1, following a second appeal filed with a federal appeals court.

And just days following this round of bad news, Samsung was dealt another blow by Apple, with its Galaxy Nexus smartphone banned from sale in the US. The ruling was “disappointing” to Samsung and Google, who collaborated on the project, incorporating Google’s Android OS into the Nexus model. But don’t expect the two parties to take the recent legal onslaught lying down, with reports suggesting Samsung and Google are in the process of formulating a legal plan to hit back at Apple.

We’ve learnt better than to try and predict an outcome to all of this, though it’s impossible to dispute the fact that Samsung will soon be feeling the financial burn of the pending injunctions.

It’s been estimated by various industry sources that the court-ordered restrictions could see Samsung lose as much as US$60 million from the Galaxy Tab injunction and a further US$120 million from the Galaxy Nexus ban. Ouch!

Apple vs Italy

Mama mia! Apple is in hot water, after facing threats of hefty fines and a temporary shut down of operations in Italy from the country’s antitrust authorities. The warning comes from allegations that the company has failed to make it clear to customers that all Apple products come with a free two-year warranty, as mandated by European consumer law.

Apple has since appealed the court-ordered warning, arguing that Italy’s antitrust regulating body is acting on a misinformed interpretation of consumer law.

“We have appealed the recent decision of the (Italian) court as it was, in our view, based upon an incorrect interpretation of the law,” an Apple spokesperson says.

“We have introduced a number of measures to address the Italian competition authority concerns and we disagree with their latest complaint.”

As the battle wages on, we wonder whose likely to emerge the winner?

Apple against…well, most of China

From the US, to Italy and, now, China – Apple’s legal week is racking up frequent flyer points at a rate of knots.

In order to keep its iPad trademark, Apple has forked out US$60 million in a Chinese court, as part of a settlement agreement with Proview – a little-known Chinese firm that has tried to ban sales of the tablet in the country.

The two companies have been locked in a legal dispute to determine ownership of the iPad trademark, with Apple claiming to have bought the iPad trademark in China from Proview in 2009. For now, it seems, the issue has been put to rest.

Next stop on Apple’s tour of China comes almost a day after the Proview case, where Apple was slapped with another copyright lawsuit over the ‘Snow Leopard’ name.

A chemical company in China is seeking US$80,000 in damages from  Apple over the Chinese translation of “Snow Leopard” (“Xuebao”), with the case going to court in Shanghai on July 10.

Jiangsu Snow Leopard Daily Chemical Company registered the Chinese translation and characters of “Snow Leopard” back in 2000, coincidentally the same year Proview trademarked its “IPAD” name.

And just when you thought that was China done…

In reports today, news of Apple being sued in China over Siri, for infringing a patent by a Shanghai-based voice application developer have hit the web. Watch this space.

Apple and the patent monopoly

Where Apple can stamp a patent on its designs, it will. But, not this time: HTC has defeated a patent-infringement case brought against it in the UK, after a judge found that the smartphone maker didn’t infringe on four of Apple’s patents relating to touchscreen technology. The win comes as a surprise to many, considering Apple’s converted effort to patent and protect whatever it can.

In a report, Seeking Alpha notes that patents currently owned by Apple that describe scrolling, rotating and scaling documents on a touch screen device are actions that are “bred into our DNA”, leaving little room for competitors to produce technologies that borrow from these rather abstract innovations.

And it’s not just iOS patents that are causing discomfort in the industry, with reports of new MacBook Air patents said to be potentially damaging to rival ultrabook manufacturers launching their own products into a burgeoning market.

Apple’s patents could prevent future implications, like the slew of court cases the company is currently facing, establishing clear ownership of its product designs and software technologies. But where does that leave other players in the game?  Will they continue to fight it out in the legal system, or will this prompt the competition to design drastically different products to those of Apple?

In another grab to secure its property, Apple has also won the fight to take ownership of the iPad3.com domain after its original owner handed control over to Apple’s representative, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

With great power comes great responsibility…maybe Apple’s hellish week of legal battles is the reason they are taking drastic measures to avoid future messes like these?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

@grace_robinson_

One Comment

One person was compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. udi says:

    Apple isn’t taking steps to avoid troubles like these, it thrives on them. The company has always been part tech company, part fashion design company and part voracious litigators. They tried to sue others over the use of the mouse, the gui, the desktop metaphore and various other stuff that werent even their original ideas. Some intellectual property laws and their applivation is ridiculous and is funny to see apple on the receiving end of this nonsense for a change.

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