Apple-Samsung patent infringement trial nears conclusion

2014-04-28 10:25

California – A high-stakes battle between the world’s largest smartphone makers is scheduled to wrap up this week after a month-long trial that has pulled the curtain back on just how cutthroat the competition is between Apple and Samsung.

Closing arguments in the patent-infringement case are scheduled to begin today, with the two tech giants accusing each other, once again, of ripping off designs and features. At stake: $2bn (R21bn) if Samsung loses, a few hundred million if Apple loses.

Teams of attorneys on both sides have spent the month trying to poke holes in obscure and bureaucratic patent legal claims, while keeping the eight jurors engaged. Drawing the most attention in the courtroom and the media are insider emails and meeting presentations documenting the frustration each company faced as they competed for market share.

Less than a year after Apple unveiled its iPhone in 2007, combining a web browser, music player and phone in one swipeable device, Samsung officials noted that they were quickly losing customers.

“While traditional OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] are busy fighting each other in the feature phone space, Apple is busy making the category obsolete,” said one confidential briefing presentation. “What makes the iPhone unique is software [applications] and services, beautiful hardware is just a bonus.”

But Samsung fought back, using Google’s Android system, offering cheaper smartphones with larger screens.

“Consumers want what we don’t have,” said a 2013 Apple presentation a few years later, noting that the low-priced, easy-to-view competition was surging ahead.

Throughout the three years of litigation, Samsung’s market share has grown. One of every three smartphones sold last year was a Samsung, now the market leader. Apple, with a typically higher price, was second, with about 15% of the global market.

Although it’s impossible to predict what a jury will do, two years ago a federal jury found Samsung was infringing on Apple patents. Samsung was ordered to pay about $900m, but it is has appealed the judgment and has been allowed to continue selling products using the technology.

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