The Apple vs. Samsung patent battle may not be as exciting as the Cola wars, but it is so trouble stirring that it screams ‘thermonuclear war’ (Steve Jobs words, not mine!). For over seven years Apple and Samsung have been at each other’s throats in the constant struggle for a bigger piece of the billion-dollar smartphone market. The lawsuit, one of the more than 50 Apple and Samsung filed against one another in at least 20 countries, is among the world’s most closely watched patent trials.
To help you catch up, we’ve put together the Apple vs. Samsung timeline of what’s happened in the past few years.
Apple vs. Samsung Timeline
You’d be surprised to learn that the two companies used to get along great. Their legal battle started when Samsung started rolling out Android devices. Then Apple chief executive Steve Jobs infamously called it a “stolen” product – a ripoff the iPhone.
“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this.” —Steve Jobs to Walter Isaacson, March 2010.
Apple warns Samsung some Samsung phones and tablets infringe on Apple patents. Since Apple spends millions on Samsung screens, processors, flash memory and other components and is a “trusted partner,” it wants to work out a deal with Samsung.
Apple proposes a licensing deal where Samsung would likely pay up to $30 per phone and $40 per tablet. Samsung declines.
Apple sues Samsung, claiming the Korean tech giant “slavishly” copied its product designs. In response, Samsung countersues over a number of 3G patents, and files claims against Apple in Germany, Japan and Korea.
August – September 2011
Apple alleges the Galaxy Tab violates 10 of its tablets and delays its release in Australia. It also secures an injunction on Galaxy Tab sales in the EU, claiming its design closely resembles the iPad.
In the U.S. a San Jose court orders Samsung to share samples of Android devices and source code with Apple by the end of the year. Samsung tried to get the court to order Apple to disclose information about the upcoming iPhone 5 and iPad 4; the court denies the request.
Both companies assert patents and patent claims. Apple’s patents include:
- Admire: '647, '959, '414, '721, '172
- Galaxy Nexus: '647, '959, '414, '721, '172
- Galaxy Note: '647, '959, '414, '172
- Galaxy Note II: '647, '959, '414
- Galaxy S II: '647, '959, '414, '721, '172
- Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch: '647, '959, '414, '721, '172
- Galaxy S II Skyrocket: '647, '959, '414, '721, '172
- Galaxy S III: '647, '959, '414
- Galaxy Tab 2 10.1: '647, '959, '414
- Stratosphere: ' 647, '959, '414, '721, '172
Apple products that Samsung says infringe on its patents:
- iPhone 4: '239, '449
- iPhone 4S: '239, '449
- iPhone 5: '239, '449
- iPad 2: '239 (Note: Samsung has since dropped the infringement claim.)
- iPad 3: '239 (Note: Samsung has since dropped the infringement claim.)
- iPad 4: '239 (Note: Samsung has since dropped the infringement claim.)
- iPad Mini: '239 (Note: Samsung has since dropped the infringement claim.)
- iPod Touch (5th generation) (2012): '449
- iPod Touch (4th generation) (2011): '449
November – December 2011
To get around the sales ban in Germany, Samsung changes the design of the Galaxy tablet. It takes revenge by getting iPhones and iPads banned in Germany for a few hours. Meanwhile in the U.S., Apple loses a bid to block sales of specific Samsung 4G phones.
Both the companies file more cases. The Apple vs. Samsung patent war spans about 30 cases registered in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia.
March – July 2012
Apple vs. Samsung trial begins in California; Apple claims Samsung violated court orders by only turning over one device with source code. Judge Lucy Koh orders the companies into settlement talks. Meanwhile, a U.S. appeals court puts a ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 until a trial. Judge Koh rules any ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 until the trial ended.
A U.S. judge rules that Apple must publicize a notice on its UK website and in British newspapers stating that Samsung did not infringe the iPad’s design. Apple complies cheekily and is forced to do a take-over.
Apple and Samsung are now engaged in over 50 lawsuits worldwide.
A few days later the Apple vs. Samsung UK trial begins, where the late co-founder Steve Jobs says Android are “irrelevant” in court, much to Samsung’s dismay. Apple is awarded more than $1 billion in damages after Samsung is found to have copies critical features of the iPhones and iPads.
The U.S. jury awards Apple over $1 billion in damages after finding that 26 Samsung devices infringed on Apple software and patents. Without wasting a breath, Apple files a second U.S. lawsuit against Samsung claiming 21 more devices released since August 2011 infringe on Apple patents, including the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note.
October – November 2012
Apple loses bid to revive injunction on Galaxy Nexus sales ban.
The U.S. Patent of Trademark Office rejects all claims of Apple’s 915 “pinch-to-zoom” patent. Despite Apple’s court victory, Samsung’s infringing devices remain on sale.
Judge Koh finds the U.S. jury calculated damages incorrectly and invalidates $450 million of the $1.05 billion award to Apple and orders for a complete retrial.
Surprisingly, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) rules in favor of Samsung; orders iPhones and iPads to be barred in the U.S. for infringing on a standard-essential patent belong to the Korean company.
ITC blocks sales of older Samsung phones in the U.S. for violating two Apple patents.
Retrial begins; Judge Koh awards Apple $290 million in damages, bringing Samsung’s total penalty down to $929 million from $1.05 billion.
Samsung files a formal appeal against the judgment; claims four of five patent claims against it are owned by Alphabet-owned Google as part of Android. It also withdraws its standard-essential patents from the case.
In the second Apple vs. Samsung trial, jury awards Apple $120 million, Samsung $160, 000.
Samsung agrees to pay Apple $548 million.
Apple vs. Samsung Timeline: Where are we now?
During the week-long patent trial, jury sides with Apple and awards $5.3 million in damages for violating three patent designs. Today’s ruling is a huge victory for Apple. Although, it’s worth noting that Apple was originally seeking $1 billion in damages, and Samsung, however, wanted to pay not a dime more than $28 million.
Apple vs. Samsung: Who won?
In the Apple vs. Samsung timeline of patent wars, both the companies were found guilty of infringing some of each other’s patents in the patent trial which began in 2011. While Samsung didn’t have to pay the initial $1 billion amount in damages, it did face an overwhelming defeat. It is still deemed a copycat in a lot of aspects. And Apple, which was also found guilty of copying some of Samsung’s patents, strongly believes the punishment is light.