Apple has spent almost three years fighting a global patent war against its rivals, including Samsung Electronics, whose sales of Galaxy S3 it sought to block in the U.S. Now, however, the iPhone maker faces setbacks in two key U.S. court cases.
On Thursday, June 7, Judge Richard Posner in Chicago federal court canceled Apple's trial against Google's Motorola Mobility unit. The trial was set to start on Monday, June 11. In a separate order late on Monday, June 11, U.S. District judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, trumped Apple's hopes to block the launch of Samsung's new Galaxy S3 smartphone, set for June 21. Koh said Apple's request for a court order to block the launch would overload her calendar, considering that she is also overseeing Apple's patent trial over other Samsung devices. That trial is set for July.
Apple has fought a global patent attempting to limit the growth of Google's Android platform, which is the world's best-selling mobile operating platform. Meanwhile, Apple's opponents claim the Cupertino, California-based tech giant is trying to use its impressive patent portfolio to avoid competition on the market.
A clear victory in one of the legal cases in the United States could bolster Apple's position in negotiating cross-licensing agreements outside court, a practice when companies make deals to let each other use their patented technologies. "The stalemate is much more of a victory for the accused infringers than it is for Apple," said Stanford Law University professor Brian Love, who studies patent litigation, according to Reuters.
Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, reiterated that the blatant copying of the company's devices was wrong. Meanwhile, Google spokesman Jim Prosser said the increase in patent litigation was driven by too many vague software patents, and that Google is an attractive target because of its great success, Reuters reported.
In the lawsuit filed last year against Samsung, Apple said the South Korean company "slavishly" copied the iPhone and iPad. The iPhone maker recently filed a motion to amend its existing lawsuit against Samsung, seeking to add the Galaxy S3 on the same list as the Galaxy Nexus, as Apple contends many of the same patents are being infringed in Samsung's latest flagship phone. Samsung denied the claims and countersued, filing a motion for the court to deny Apple's request. Samsung Galaxy S3 is set to launch on June 21 in the U.S.
Samsung, 'Always One Step Ahead'
Courts, however, can hardly keep pace with new technology. Apple attorney Josh Krevitt complained at a hearing last week that Samsung is able to launch new phones before the legal system has had the time to address their potential patent violations. "Samsung is always one step ahead, launching another product and another product," said Krevitt, as cited by Reuters.
Last week, Judge Koh said Apple could seek a temporary restraining order against the Samsung Galaxy S3, but that move would likely delay the trial over the other smartphones and tablet. Now, in the order on Monday, June 11, Koh said Apple would have to request a new hearing date if it wants to block sales of Samsung's latest flagship phone. A new hearing, however, would likely not take place before the Galaxy S3's scheduled launch on June 21. Apple has not said what it plans to do next.