Home Why Samsung’s Latest Victory In Its Patent War With Apple Is Mostly Meaningless

Why Samsung’s Latest Victory In Its Patent War With Apple Is Mostly Meaningless

Samsung has won another victory in its long-running patent war with Apple. A new 

judgement bars Apple from importing certain last-generation iPads and iPhones to the United States

. The win, however, is unlikely to amount to much more than a moral victory – while serving to highlight how meaningless these courtroom skirmishes are to a smartphone market that the two technology giants continue to dominate.  

The International Trade Commission said Tuesday that AT&T versions of Apple’s iPhone 3GS and 4, and 3G-equipped models of iPad and iPad 2, infringe on a Samsung patent covering cellular technology. The ITC issued a limited order barring those devices from being sold in the U.S. Apple has already said it plans to appeal the decision, which it can do via the federal courts or a direct appeal to the White House. 

No Impact At All

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet summed things up in a statement to


, saying, “Today’s decision has

no impact on the availability of Apple products

in the United States.” Samsung spokesperson Adam Yates countered with a statement that included this gem: “We believe the ITC’s Final Determination has confirmed Apple’s history of free-riding on Samsung’s technological innovations.” 

For the uninitiated, that “history” dates back to Apple’s original claims from April 2011 that

Samsung’s early Galaxy and Nexus smartphones “slavishly” copied the iPhone’s design

. The original court complaint famously includes side-by-side comparisons of Apple’s iPhone 3GS and Samsung’s Galaxy S (i9000). That history includes 

a $1.05 billion judgement against Samsung, awarded to Apple last August

 by a California patent court. And that history also includes a

UK court ordering Apple to publicly apologize to Samsung

for patent infringement accusations by running announcements in newspapers and online. 

Just as a ban on devices that account for little of Apple’s current business won’t change anything, neither did the “I’m Sorry,” newspaper ads nor the $1 billion judgement Samsung is still appealing. The so-called consequences levied by courts and trade commissions have done nothing but chew up legal-system resources, give the media something to write about and keep both companies’ legal teams busy.

When Giants Battle, The Little Guy Loses

Apple and Samsung continue to own the lion’s share of the U.S. smartphone market.

ComScore says Apple still owns the #1 spot

, while Canaccord Genuity claims Samsung is now on top. Either way,

the two dominate the rest of the field

 whether you measure by marketshare or profits. The patent wars don’t seem to be hurting


company’s businesses. 

HTC, on the other hand,

has seen its business crumble


fighting off an Apple patent suit

. Despite shipping two of the best smartphones in the world over the past 18 months –

last year’s One X

and the

current flagship One

– HTC has been bleeding money and hemorrhaging executives. HTC’s profits for the first quarter of 2013 

tumbled 98% from the same period last year


(See also Why Samsung’s Profits Are Growing As HTC’s Plummet.) 

The company’s woes are due as much to branding misfires (gone is last year’s “Quietly Brilliant” slogan) and a lack of financial muscle to compete with Apple and Samsung’s marketing departments. But getting caught in Apple legal’s crosshairs certainly didn’t help.

Executive Order To End Patent Wars?

The Apple-Samsung spat is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to technology industry patent issues, in the U.S. and internationally. Tuesday the Obama administration issued a

list of recommended Executive and Legislative Actions

to reform the high-tech patent system, and The Verge quotes sources claiming that the timing of

the ITC’s Apple import ban was “motivated in part by the Obama Administration’s new patent announcements.”

Reaction to President Obama’s recommendations from the tech community

has been mixed at best

. Perhaps that’s because patent-related issues have become an annoying thorn in the side of a community that thrives on lightning-paced innovation.

(See also Inside The Mind Of A Patent Troll: If It’s Legal, It Must Be OK.)

Patent trolls are just that, trolls. And despite their protestations, it seems clear that the big-name patent wars have become a little more than an expensive sideshow leeching the lifeblood out of industry while doing little to actually protect inventors. Apple, Samsung and the rest are spending billions of dollars and untold hours fighting in courtrooms and arguing over newspaper apologies. Wouldn’t those resources be better directed towards innovation?

Image by Renato Mitra from Obergösgen, Switzerland (iPhone 3G S 32GB, schwarz) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.