Apple and Samsung have accused each other of patent infringement
Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd take their battle for mobile supremacy to court on Monday in one of the biggest-ever technology patent trials, a case with the potential to reshape a fast-evolving market they now dominate.
The tech titans will lock horns in a federal courtroom in San Jose, California, just miles from Apple's headquarters. The stakes are high, with Samsung facing potential U.S. sales bans of its Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers, and Apple in a pivotal test of its worldwide patent litigation strategy. Both sides are seeking financial damages from the other, reports Reuters.
Samsung has rapidly overtaken Apple, creator of the iPhone and iPad, and Nokia to become the world's largest smartphone maker. Together, Apple and Samsung account for more than half of smartphone sales globally.
Apple sued Samsung last year in San Jose, claiming its smartphones and tablets slavishly copied the iPhone and iPad. The South Korean company countersued. Since then, the two have expanded their fight to courtrooms in nearly a dozen other countries.
At this trial, Apple is seeking at least $2.53 billion in damages, though U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh could triple that figure if she finds Samsung willfully infringed Apple's patents.
The dispute has reached deep into the tech sector, with companies including Microsoft Corp, IBM Corp, Nokia and Research in Motion Ltd filing court papers this week to try to keep their own patent licensing agreements from being disclosed during the trial.
A loss for Samsung could lead to permanent sales bans against products including the flagship Galaxy S III phone, said Nick Rodelli, a lawyer and adviser to institutional investors for CFRA Research in Maryland. While the S III is not at issue in the trial, if Apple prevails the company could later ask Koh to block sales of that product.
Upward of 20 percent of Samsung's global consolidated profit could be affected if it loses this case, he said.
"Samsung is a big company with operations all over the world, but this is actually a needle-mover for them on the bottom line," Rodelli said.
Apple will try to use Samsung documents to show its rival knowingly violated the iPhone maker's intellectual property rights, while Samsung argues Apple is trying to stifle competition to maintain "exorbitant" profit.
In a statement Friday, Samsung said Apple has been "free-riding" on its technology "while using excessive legal claims against our products in their attempt to limit consumer choice and discourage innovation."
An Apple spokesman reiterated the company's previous statement that it wasn't a coincidence Samsung's latest products looked a lot like the iPhone and iPad, and that Samsung blatantly copied its products.
A loss for Apple could be significant, not only if it were ordered to pay financial damages but also because of the competitive threats. That is because the Galaxy S III is a better phone than the latest iPhone 4S, said Michael Yoshikami, chief executive of Destination Wealth Management.