Samsung vs Apple patent lawsuits quashed.

Apple and Samsung have been engaged in a very public and bitter war over patents for the last year or so. Apple has had a long list of patents that it claims were infringed upon by the Korean electronics giant. These primarily included design and user interface related issues, and the result has been an ongoing battle over patents of both the major and the petty variety. 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Image Source - Wikimedia Commons)

The latest lawsuit - an issue about the 'slide-to-unlock' feature (that is ubiquitous in almost every smartphone these days) was dismissed by a German court. Apple had filed a suit against Samsung for that feature. Samsung, in turn, had filed a countersuit related to the infringement of its 3G (3rdgeneration) technology related patents by Apple. This had sensationally led to a temporary ban on the sales of the iPhone in Germany. A spokesman for the Mannheim state court judges (to whom the suits were filed) made the announcement about the dismissal of the cases.

The curious part about the entire affair is that the slide-to-unlock mechanisms in Apple and Samsung devices adopt rather different approaches. Apple iOS devices have a very discrete slider that can be used to unlock a screen with only a horizontal, left-to-right swipe of a finger. Samsung, however, allows swipes/gestures in absolutely any direction, as long as it is radially outward from the unlock icon. This was noted by the presiding judge at the Mannheim court – Andreas Voss.

Samsung, as stated before, is claiming that its patents related to 3G technologies are being infringed. What makes their case more interesting is that suits like these reportedly violate the conditions of European FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non Discriminatory) agreements. FRAND agreements are highly regulated in the European Union to prevent their abuse, as the patents which fall under their purview have far too essential for technology (in general) for them to be restricted.

Apple had managed to get Samsung tablets banned in Australia over design conflicts. This had compelled to Korean company to launch modified versions of their Galaxy series of tablets. Their latest salvo against Apple does seem to be retaliatory, but EU FRAND guidelines may yet leave them in hot water at the end of all this.

(via WSJ)
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