Apple's latest patent suit against Samsung seen as its strongest case yet
Analyst Mike Abramksy with RBC Capital Markets said in a note to investors Monday that although Apple's previous lawsuits against Samsung have failed to gain an injunction against the Korean company's products, Apple is not backing down. The latest lawsuit, filed in California last week, is based on what he sees as "much stronger patents" than previous lawsuits.
"The smartphone patent war is now at its highest intensity," Abramsky said. "While Apple's litigation to date has failed to produce any significant wins, Apple is now bringing its strongest patents into the war."
Specifically, the complaint seeks an injunction against sales of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus Smartphone, which is Google's Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" flagship device. Named in Apple's latest complaint are four patents:
- U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647, related to a link for structures and validated in Apple's U.S. International Trade Commission case against HTC.
- U.S. Patent No. 8,074,172, which pertains to predictive text.
- U.S. Patent No. 8,046,721, a patented invention for the "slide to unlock" function found on iOS devices.
- U.S. Patent No. 8,086,604, related to Siri voice commands and unified search.
In addition, Abramsky said that Apple's latest case has strengthened the company's argument on why it would be irreparably harmed in the absence of a preliminary injunction.
In his eyes, if Apple wins a preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Nexus and sales of it are barred in the U.S., Samsung would likely appeal and may end up removing infringing features from its handset, like unified search, slide to unlock and predictive text. Removing those features "would materially diminish the Nexus' experience vs. iPhone," he wrote.
In addition, if Apple were to win the case against Samsung, Abramsky believes it could raise the stakes for other smartphone makers with handsets that run Android 4.0 if the infringing features are part of Google's build of the operating system.
If Apple loses the latest effort for an injunction against Samsung, the lawsuit will proceed to a full trial, which could take between two and three years to start. Regardless, Abramsky believes that Apple will "continue its barrage of patent litigation," and may use feedback from the court to file even stronger motions for preliminary injunctions against Android devices in the future.
Apple's legal assault against Samsung and other Android-based device makers began last April, when Apple fired its first lawsuit against Samsung, accusing the company of copying the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad. Lawsuits between the two corporations now span over 10 countries across four continents.