While patent law in and of itself would be great bedtime reading for insomniacs, a pretty significant patent law case is (finally) going to see the inside of a courtroom today in San Jose, California, as tecnology giants Samsung and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) face off over some crucial patents that affect mobile communications.
Apple first filed suit against Samsung in the spring of 2011, and Samsung soon countersued, both claiming patent infringement. Apple’s beef surrounds its iPhone patents and that Samsung “stole” those patents for use in its Android phones, which Appla says looks and acts like an iPhone. Samsung countersued on a more broad tack, making a claim in support of patents that basically sets up mobile communications as a general concept.
This “cheat sheet” goes into some of the highlights, but here it is in a nutshell: Apple is suing Samsung over patnets specific to the iPhone, claiming Android phones are too similar; Samsung is saying the patents shouldn’t be exclusive to Apple, since many of them are “standards-essential” patents – meaning the patents cover items and processes that are critical for general mobile communications across all mobile devices, not just specifically to one company. Without access to these processes or concepts, Samsumg claims, there would be no mobile communications generally outside of Apple iPhones.
OK, so maybe that is a little more than a nutshell, but it pretty much epitomizes what all is at stake here. Apple is fighting for a bigger share of the mobile communications market, while Samsung is trying not only to keep its Android at the top of the market, but also to keep competition open in the marketplace and available for Samsung to continue to import its products.
Oh, and in the middle of all this is Reuters News Service, which is filing a request to have everything about this trial made public – something that Apple, Samsung, and even Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is fighting against, because this trial is likely to reveal trade secrets and/or sensitive information about existing or yet-to-be-released products.
Jury selection begins today in U.S. District Court in San Jose, with opening statements being made either late today or Tuesday. The trial is expected to last two to three weeks and a 10-person jury will decide the likely fates of two of the biggest mobil communications companies in the world.
The transcripts won’t be a fun read, but this trial could be a watershed moment in 21st-century technology, and thus worth watching to see if the retail landscape will be inexorably altered.