So, here we go again. Just over a month after a California court delivered Apple a thumping victory in its ongoing legal battle with Samsung, the Korean giant is back for more, this time suing Cupertino over the iPhone 5.
Filing papers in the same state where it was told by a jury to hand over $1 billion in damages to Tim Cook and co in August, Samsung stated: “We have always preferred to compete in the marketplace with our innovative products, rather than in courtrooms.
“However, Apple continues to take aggressive legal measures that will limit market competition."
The idea that Samsung prefers to do battle in the marketplace is something of a misconception. It’s as guilty as Apple of pursuing this ludicrous battle in courtrooms across the US, Europe and Asia.
The seesaw nature of the tussle, which sees Samsung win a victory in one territory while Apple wins in another, is becoming a global embarrassment. But far, far worse than that is that it could significantly stymie creativity among smartphone-makers in the future.
Let’s be clear, Apple is at fault too. Protecting intellectual property is vital, certainly, but this battle has gone beyond the basics of ensuring that ideas are not stolen. It’s become about preventing competitors getting an edge in the marketplace.
This series of legal cases must be striking fear into innovators the world over, terrified that ideas they have that might be similar to someone else’s could be the subject of a costly legal battle.
The Samsung versus Apple cases might make for great viewing for tech-watchers and give tedious fanboys on both sides ammunition for a debate that is frankly redundant.
Samsung and Apple both make excellent phones. But without legal wrangles like this, they and others could make even better ones.
Following the iPhone 5 launch, some fascinating comment emerged debating whether we are entering an age where new smartphones no longer offer giant leaps in innovation, merely interesting, incremental jumps.
Surely, Samsung and Apple’s continued fight plays into this. Because you can bet that if Samsung reveals a major upgrade with the Galaxy S4 (and I’m not talking a larger screen and faster processor here), you can guarantee that Apple’s lawyers will be primed and ready to serve papers.
Instead, companies are more likely to make small changes which don’t cause a stir in the legal departments of their competitors (something you could say Apple was hoping to do with the iPhone 5). In that case, consumers (and lawyers on huge retainers) are the losers.
The longer Samsung and Apple insist on this tit-for-tat nonsense, favouring judge’s rulings to grown up negotiations around a meeting room table, the more likely it is the entire smartphone ecosystem will suffer.
It’s time for them to go mano-a-mano and sort their differences once and for all. The smartphone world depends on it.