Entering new phase
By Kim Yoo-chul, Cho Mu-hyun
The ongoing battle between Samsung Electronics and Apple over patents is heading toward a critical phase after both companies withdrew some infringement claims.
Samsung is still officially saying it has no plan to sign a cross-licensing agreement with the California-based company, while Apple spokesman in Korea declined to give any updates on the situation. Samsung said it has trimmed its number of claims in a broad intellectual-property lawsuit about smartphones and tablets after an order from U.S. district court judge Lucy Koh.
The rare action comes as Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung will hold his first face-to-face meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook on May 21 in the United States, with the aim of agreeing a peace deal with Apple.
A Samsung spokesman said the date of the meeting was set by the court of California but stressed the firm isn’t in a position to comment on whether the meeting will actually take place.
``It’s all a money game. Apple wants Samsung to pay more royalties in return for using its design-related patents, while Samsung is seeking compensation from Apple worth billions of dollars over patents related to wireless transmission technology,’’ said a high-ranking Samsung executive, asking not to be identified, Friday.
Samsung is requesting Apple pay 2.4 percent of the price of each chip in royalties. Considering that Samsung is expected to supply Apple with $11 billion of components such as LCD screens and memory chips throughout this year, it could mean a hefty extra burden for Apple.
Samsung is blaming Apple for delaying the so-called FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) negotiations because it refuses to sign non-disclosure agreements.
``Both Samsung and Apple thought their legal battle in 10 different countries had come to no fruition. That’s why the companies agreed to trim down the number of claims. Now, the companies will focus on getting more royalties. This is the path that’s been widely-expected,’’ said a patent expert in Seoul, asking not to be named as this view isn’t officially represents his company.
Samsung has expressed its intention to avoid a summer trial, but Apple is pushing hard for the court battle to continue.
The reason appears obvious. Samsung is selling more of its Galaxy-branded digital devices globally and is now the world’s biggest phone maker after ending Nokia’s previous 14-year leadership.
It also believes the fight with Apple has helped it boost its international recognition in the eyes of general consumers. Samsung saw its biggest jump in a single year in its brand recognition last year, according to data from market research firm InterBrand.
``While the legal fight goes on, Samsung is rolling out more products by using its undeniable competitive edge _ manufacturing,’’ said another Samsung executive. ``That’s why Samsung wants the fight to keep going on,’’ he added.
The fight has lasted for over a year since Apple sued Samsung on April 15 last year for design and patent violations. Samsung has since counter-sued Apple in Korea, Japan, and Germany. It has been costly for both firms.
Apple had higher sales and profits than its rival throughout most of 2011, coinciding with the time frame of the lawsuit, while holding 18.3 percent of the worldwide smartphone market share over Samsung’s 11.3 percent in the first-quarter of 2011, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).
Things have changed since then. Samsung passed Apple starting around the third quarter last year.
In the first quarter, Samsung now leads its California-based rival, holding a market share of 29.1 percent, a 267 percent rise from the previous year. Apple now has a 24.2 percent share with an 88.7 percent from the previous year.