Will Apple Win the Patent War Against Samsung?

Apple isn’t off its rocker—the company is protecting future interests by enforcing past patents.

Jan 2, 2014 at 9:51AM

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) just filed an injunction against Samsung to prevent the company from selling several products in an attempt to protect themselves from future infringement. Here's the catch: the products that are the subject of the motion aren't even for sale anymore. Sounds crazy, but actually, this falls right in line with what the company has done before to protect its patents.


Source: Flickr

To get you up to speed, let's review: Apple was originally denied an injunction against Samsung by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. That same case hit the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled the previous judge made a mistake.

Cut to the current situation where Apple has asked for a hearing on the motion on or around Jan. 30. What's interesting to note is an injunction can only be passed if it won't harm the public interest, and since Samsung no longer sells the nearly two dozen products at the heart of the issue, it literally can't harm the public. So, we win, I guess? Consumers won't notice a sudden lack of Samsung products available, which is good news for those who love their smartphones. 

But that doesn't mean such an injunction wouldn't prevent Apple putting the kibosh on future Samsung products if they deemed them to be "not colorably different" from Apple's lineup. 

Let's make this a bit clearer. Samsung had products in the past that Apple thought were too similar to theirs. Apple tries to get an injunction and fails. Court says original ruling was wrong and leaves Apple open to filing another injunction on those products, which are no longer relevant because they're no longer available. But having such an injunction approved would set a precedent, which could come in handy if Samsung comes out with anything else Apple thinks hits too close to home.

What makes this whole matter confusing is the emphasis on the products that aren't available anymore, rather than the patents associated with those products. You see, if Apple gets its injunction, that means the patents in question will be upheld in Apple's favor, meaning Samsung's offerings might get smacked down if there's even a whisper of potential infringement. 

There are a few potential outcomes here:

  • The motion is passed. Apple gets its injunction and Samsung will have to pay extra special attention to ensure its new products don't infringe on Apple's patents. Apple will be watching Samsung like a hawk to make sure of the same. It's likely Apple will tie up new Samsung products in court in this scenario, leaving the latter facing huge obstacles in the smartphone market from here on out. Apple is the clear winner here but the consumer loses. The smartphone market needs healthy competition. Patent infringement isn't cool, but so is unnecessary litigation.
  • The motion is denied. Nothing changes. Apple goes back to looking for new ways to edge Samsung out of the smartphone market and Samsung continues to use multitouch. This consumer keeps her options open. 
  • Samsung tries its own hand at filing a motion against Apple. Probably won't hold up since Apple was the first to market with a touchscreen phone. And since it was already found that Samsung infringed on Apple's patents with no-longer-available devices like the Galaxy Tab, the former does have a track record for being the copier, not the one being copied. 

No matter what happens, none of these outcomes will have that much of an immediate effect on consumers. However, a second patent infringement lawsuit lined up for the spring of 2014 might just affect consumers and Samsung phones that are available right now.

Get the popcorn ready.

Want to get in on the smartphone phenomenon? Truth be told, one company sits at the crossroads of smartphone technology as we know it. It's not your typical household name, either. In fact, you've probably never even heard of it! But it stands to reap massive profits NO MATTER WHO ultimately wins the smartphone war. To find out what it is, click here to access the "One Stock You Must Buy Before the iPhone-Android War Escalates Any Further..."

Fool contributor Brenda Barron has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers