Apple v. Samsung: Patent Battle Resumes Today

Categories: Law & Order, Tech

Apple! Samsung! Two will enter the ring. ONE WILL LEAVE.
One year after a San Jose jury granted Apple a $1 billion damages verdict, affirming the company's charge that its smartphone rival Samsung infringed on six technology patents, the two companies are back in court again.

Stakes are a little lower in this Apple v. Samsung redux, as a jury determines how much Apple suffered from Samsung's 13 copycat products, most of which already seem woefully out of date. (Anyone remember the Nexus S 4G? The original Galaxy tablet?) For federal Judge Lucy Koh, who already cut the damages award by $450 million -- arguing that the jury had miscalculated -- it's the rerun of a show that seemed pretty tedious the first time. For the rest of us, it's a chance to wonder whether the phones are tech savvy enough to actually beat each other up when left alone together.

Whether or not you believe that Apple and Samsung's legal battles enshrine all the fatuousness of the patent wars, legal experts say it will lay the groundwork for a federal appeal and provide guidelines for future smartphone battles.

But it won't resonate in the market. Apple can't renew its bid for a product injunction until the case proceeds to the Federal Circuit, so at this point, money is the only thing on the line.

"The amount at stake is large by any standard," Santa Clara University assistant law professor Brian J. Love writes via e-mail, "but these companies are also very large and very successful by any standard." Considering that these are two of biggest chess pieces in Silicon Valley, a few million dollars is toothpaste money.

Granted, Love warns, every dollar spent on litigation is another dollar not spent on design or development. The cost-benefit analysis might be worth it for Apple, if it can recoup any fraction of the lost $450 million. But the outcome won't have any bearing on Samsung's current product offerings -- or the heirlooms named in this case. The Korean company can console itself knowing that those antiquated Nexus 4Gs will continue flying off the shelves -- and straight into the garbage cans of Baltimore.

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