Primer on Apple vs. Samsung Part II
Apple and Samsung's second major patent trial gets underway in California today. While the parties involved remain the same, the products and patents at issue are substantially different. Undoubtedly, in the coming weeks we'll be inundated with day-to-day reports relaying the latest news from the courtroom.
To help provide a little bit of context to the legal proceedings, below is a breakdown of the patents and products at issue, along with information detailing how Apple and Samsung's second legal case differs from the first.
What this case isn't about
In stark contrast to Apple and Samsung's first trial, the second trial does not involve any design patents which can encompass the physical design of a product as well as certain software aesthetics. Remember all the talk about the iPad's rounded corners and iOS's grid layout? There will be no such discussion this time around.
Design patents aside, it's worth noting that a number of important utility patents Apple asserted during the first trial -- inertial scrolling, multi-touch navigation, and tap to zoom -- will not be at issue during the second trial.
What this case is about
After a few months of narrowing down the number of patents to be asserted at trial, Apple will be asserting 5 of its patents against Samsung while Samsung will be asserting just two patents against Apple.
Apple's accused products
Samsung alleges that these Apple products infringe upon their patents: the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, along with the 4th and 5th generation iPod Touch.
Samsung's accused products
Apple meanwhile claims that the following Samsung products infringe upon their patents: the Samsung Galaxy S II, S III, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy S II Skyrocket, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, and the Samsung Stratosphere. Note that Apple had tried to include the Galaxy S 4 but the court didn't allow it.
Apple's asserted patents
This patent details a method by which a device detects certain types of data -- i.e dates, URLs, email addresses, phone numbers -- and subsequently presenting users with a pop-up menu which enables then to perform a clickable action.
As a simple example, you receive a text message asking for plans "next Friday." Your device recognizes the data structure and enables you to tap on the 'next Friday' string to create a calendar event for that day. Or, let's say, you receive an email with an embedded phone number. Your device recognizes that the string is likely a phone number and lets you tap on it to initiate a phone call.
Note that Apple has wielded this patent before, successfully asserting it against HTC to secure a ban on the sale of select HTC Android devices before the US International Trade Commission (ITC).
This patent was initially filed in 1996 and expires in 2016.
This patent details a method for locating information from a number of sources all at once, including the Internet and local storage. This feature is often referred to as Unified Search.
While Apple initially asserted this patent against versions of Android's Quick Search Box, it has also accused the Google Now search app of infringing the patent as well.
This '721 patent is rather straight forward and covers a process by which a device allows a user to unlock a device by pressing on a predefined location and continuously dragging an input (i.e fingers) along a set path that corresponds to an unlock image.
Claim 8 of the patent specifically covers a display with "with visual cues" that lets a user know in which direction he/she should move to unlock the device.
This patent was filed in December of 2005, shortly after Apple began working on the iPhone project in complete secrecy.
This patent details a process by which two devices -- say a smartphone and a desktop computer -- can synchronize data while simultaneously allowing other processes to run.
The patent summary reads in part:
This description relates to systems, methods and computer readable media which allow for synchronization tasks and non-synchronization tasks to be executed concurrently.
In at least certain embodiments, a method as described herein allows a user to operate both a host and a device while the two systems are performing synchronization operations. Hence, for example, a user may manipulate or view a calendar while a synchronization operation, which synchronizes structured data from, for example, the calendar or other databases such as a contact database, is being performed.
This patent covers a system and interface for offering word recommendations while a user is typing on a device. The user can then accept the recommendation or ignore it depending on the gesture performed.
Samsung's asserted patents
Samsung in recent weeks narrowed its portfolio of asserted patents from four down to two. In doing so, Samsung removed two standards-based patents from the suit.
Samsung's remaining patents are as follows:
'449 patent, claim 27 - "Apparatus for recording and reproducing digital image and speech."
'239 patent, claims 15 - "Remote video transmission system."
This patent may have implications with respect to Apple's FaceTime feature. It's worth mentioning that this particular patent was acquired by Samsung in October of 2011, about six months after Apple initially initiated its litigation against Samsung for patent infringement.
Apple will present its evidence and witnesses first, after which Samsung will be given the opportunity to refute and cross-examine. Following that Samsung will trot out its own evidence and list of witnesses.
As for the jury and its mission to render a ruling, they will first be tasked with determining whether or not a device infringed the claims of a patent and whether or not the patent itself is valid. If a device is found to be infringing, the jury will then determine if the infringement was willful and ultimately come up with a damages award.
Note that with respect to Apple's '172 patent, Judge Lucy Koh has already found that the Samsung Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note (excluding one release), Galaxy SII (excluding one release), Galaxy SII Epic 4G Touch (excluding one release), Galaxy SII Skyrocket (excluding one release) and Stratosphere infringe claim 18 of the '172 patent. That said, the jury with respect to the '172 patent will only need to determine whether claim 18 of the '172 patent is valid.
Let the games begin.
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