April 22, 2011 saw Samsung Electronics launch a reciprocal patent infringement action against Apple Corporation, a week after Apple Corporation sued Samsung Electronics for slavishly copying the iPad and iPhone.

Samsung in Patent Dispute with Apple

Samsung Electronics has launched patent infringement actions in South Korea, Japan and Germany, alleging infringement of 10 patents in technology areas including data transmission and wireless technology for connecting mobile phones with personal computers. 

Previously, Apply Corporation made 10 complaints against Samsung Electronics based on rights which were centered around design features of the Samsung Galaxy smart phone.  Samsung’s Galaxy smart phone launched in June 2010 has emerged as a serious rival to the iPhone, and Samsung is increasing its share of the global smart phone market. 

Although Apple Corporation and Samsung Electronics are direct competitors in smart phone handsets and tablets, business relationships and technology transfer agreements between large technology corporations are complex, with Apple Corporation using some of Samsung Electronics chip sets in the iPad and iPhone.  This means that a negotiated settlement to the patent infringement dispute is the most likely outcome. 

The patent dispute is illustrative of how large corporations use their patent portfolios to leverage their commercial position and relationships with competitors and suppliers.  One benefit of having a large patent portfolio is that if one competitor tries to gain an advantage in one field of technology using their patent portfolio, if a company has a large enough patent portfolio, then the chances are that it can fire off a reciprocal patent action in a different technology area causing a stand off. 

Of course, if one corporation manages to get a dominant patent position, and the amounts of money involved are large enough, then there is always the prospect of excluding competitors from whole areas of technology. 

Article Published April 28th, 2011