Apple's suing Samsung alleging myriad IP infringements, but you may not know what all the fuss is about. On one hand, the lawsuit is surprising because Apple gets much of the goodies it needs to build its iconic iPhones, iPads, and Macs from Sammy, and common sense dictates that you don't bite the hand that feeds you. On the other hand, however, folks in Cupertino don't take too kindly to copycats, and while it's hard to put a dollar value on the brand equity Apple currently enjoys, this lawsuit shows it's valuable enough for Apple to risk upsetting its relationship with Samsung and jeopardizing its supply chain. Having given the court docs a good read, here's our rundown of what's going on.
According to Apple's complaint, phones from Samsung (particularly the Galaxy S variety) and its Galaxy Tab are eroding the efficacy of Apple's carefully crafted brand. That brand is built, in no small part, upon the trade dress (aka the appearance and packaging) of its iDevices and its trademarked iOS icons, and Apple has spent over two billion dollars on advertising from 2007-2010 to stake out a little space in everyone's brain that associates the iPhone's looks and its progeny's derivative forms with Apple. It's worked quite well too, as Apple revealed (for the first time) in its complaint that it has sold over 60 million iPod touches, 108 million iPhones, and 19 million iPads total. Problem is, Apple views the Galaxy devices, their TouchWiz UI, and packaging -- with their Apple-esque appearance -- as illegal infringers on its hard-earned mental real estate, and it's suing Sammy to stop the squatting and pay for its IP trespassing ways.
Of course, Apple isn't just dragging Samsung to court for cashing in on the iPhone image in our hearts and minds -- Jobs and company have accused Sammy of infringing several of their patents, too. Apple asserts that TouchWiz and the Galaxy S infringe upon its iOS home screen and iPhone 3G design patents. Additionally, the complaint says Samsung has run afoul of several Apple utility patents for: the iOS instant messaging interface, the "bounce back" effect you get upon scrolling too far in a list or window, control and status widgets, UI status windows that disappear a set time after being opened, and scrolling and ellipse multi-touch gesture recognition. In light of these alleged mass IP infringements, Apple's asking the court for preliminary and permanent injunctions to take Samsung's Galaxy devices off the market, in addition to the usual request for punitives, triple damages and lost profits. We've already heard that Samsung will "respond strongly" to Apple's show of legal force, but time will tell if Sammy's strong response comes in, or out of court. Those looking for a full breakdown of Apple's legal claims can hit the more coverage link below.