A Tokyo District Court today ruled Samsung's smartphones and tablets did not violate Apple's patent. Apple had claimed that Samsung devices violate patents that help synchronise music and video data in devices to cloud servers.
This is particularly significant, given that this ruling comes after the US judgement where a jury ruled that Samsung devices did indeed violate several of Apple's patents. Samsung was fined $1.05 billion in the US case. For details of that trial click here.
Apple and Samsung have filed several counter-suits in other parts of the world as well. A South-Korean court which had ruled before the US verdict came, stated that both Samsung and Apple infringed on each other's patents and banned devices from both companies in the country.
In Australia, the companies are battling over 3G patents with Samsung stating that Apple violated its patents in iPhone and iPad devices. 3G is standard for almost all high-end devices now and in the Australia trial there were allegations that Apple and Samsung weren't ready to negotiate for a standard price for the patents involved.
TechRadar also reports that Samsung will sue Apple "immediately" if it ever releases any devices with advanced long-term evolution (LTE) mobile technology. Samsung holds just over 12 percent of the world's LTE patents, according to Reuters.
But the fight isn't just between Samsung and Apple. Android, Google's popular OS, which boosted Samsung's success is also a major party to all the patent battles. But it seems that Google and Apple are trying to sort out their differences.
Reuters today reported that, Google Chief Executive Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook have been conducting behind-the-scenes talks about a range of intellectual property matters, including the mobile patent disputes between the companies.
The battle over mobile patents is not going to stop any time soon. It's no longer about who thought of the idea first. The battle has clearly become about cornering the essential patents in mobile technology. According to this Reuters report, Essential patents are adopted by the bodies that set international standards for developing technology. Everyone has to use them, which is why holders of standard-essential patents must agree to license their intellectual property on fair and non-discriminatory terms.
But as is amply evident from the Apple-Samsung trial, essential patents are also being debated in courts.
Also patents suits aren't the only path for technology companies. Licensing deals could decide the future of technology battles. As this Bloomberg report argues, The best way to view Apple’s smartphone victory is that the company now has the upper hand in a global negotiation being conducted via litigation. That’s right: a negotiation. Apple and Samsung are using the courts to help set prices for a series of eventual cross-licensing agreements covering each other’s intellectual property.
Licensing deals are the future if the mobile industry is to move forward without robbing consumers of choice. But that could mean higher prices for consumers as well.