Apple and Samsung have been engaged in a very public and bitterwar over patents for the last year or so. Apple has had a long list of patentsthat it claims were infringed upon by the Korean electronics giant. Theseprimarily included design and user interface related issues, and the result hasbeen an ongoing battle over patents of both the major and the pettyvariety.
|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 aGerman 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 toa temporary ban on the sales of the iPhone in Germany. A spokesman for theMannheim state court judges (to whom the suits were filed) made theannouncement about the dismissal of the cases.
The curious part about the entire affair is that theslide-to-unlock mechanisms in Apple and Samsung devices adopt rather different approaches. Apple iOS devices have a very discrete slider that can be used tounlock 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 isradially outward from the unlock icon. This was noted by the presiding judge atthe Mannheim court – Andreas Voss.
Samsung, as stated before, is claiming that its patents related to3G technologies are being infringed. What makes their case more interesting is thatsuits like these reportedly violate the conditions of European FRAND (Fair,Reasonable and Non Discriminatory) agreements. FRAND agreements are highly regulatedin the European Union to prevent their abuse, as the patents which fall undertheir purview have far too essential for technology (in general) for them to berestricted.
Apple had managed to getSamsung tablets banned in Australia over design conflicts. This had compelledto Korean company to launch modified versions of their Galaxy series of tablets.Their latest salvo against Apple does seem to be retaliatory, but EU FRANDguidelines may yet leave them in hot water at the end of all this.