What the Apple Patent Infringement Case Means to You

Apple, with its cadre of lawyers, has defeated Samsung’s cadre of lawyers in a massive patent infringement law suit.  What does that mean to you?

Well, the victory opens up a sales injunction avenue to Apple.  This means Apple with have the courts order Samsung to stop selling products that violate their patents.  The injunction will probably include all of Samsung’s smartphones: Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S2 AT&T, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 T-Mobile, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Droid Charge and Galaxy Prevail.  On the software front, many companies have already started to move away from the pinch-to-zoom feature and many other multitouch features, least they incur Apple’s wrath.

Although the lawsuit gives Apple a billion dollars in damages, they may not have achieved their ultimate goal of weakening the Android operating system.  Because Android is essentially open source, it greatly reduces the cost of working with it, drawing in developers.  If Apple keeps up the pressure, Google may be forced to close off and license its operating system.  That might stifle app creation.

All-in-all, your favorite smartphone might not be around next year.  What’s even more interesting is that the courts in Japan struck down Apple’s lawsuit. Samsung still has a chance to appeal.  It’ll all come down to if they can win.

The Lawsuits Never Fall Far From the Tree

Apple is once again facing a lawsuit over a patent violation.  This time it’s over noise reduction technology.  The company Noise Free Wireless, based out of Silicon Valley, claimed that it presented its technology to reduce wind interference during cellphone transmission.  Patent number 7,742,790 was awarded to Noise Free Wireless in June 2010.  However, in 2007, they had confidential meetings with Apple in which they claim that the technology was appropriated and reviewed.

Apple decided to go with another company, Audience.  Where it gets interesting is that Apple filed an application for a patent involving environmental noise cancelling technology in June of 2010.  That’s where the lawsuit began.

Apple is a tech giant, the biggest in the world.  Their IT department must be massive.  Their whole company is worth about 600 billion dollars.  A large portion of that is from the 127 billion that they made in sales in 2011.  Those sales are derived from the fact that Apple is often on the ball when it comes to consumer friendly products.  They charger more than their competitors for their stuff, just look at any laptop they produce.  Apple can do that because they have exclusive contracts for their proprietary technology.  Once they start to lose that grip, their competitors will make comparable products for cheaper, undercutting Apple’s market share.  That’s why a case about something as small as noise reduction technology is so important to Apple.  I mean, who makes calls with their cellphone anymore?

Google vs Oracle

Google is one of the largest tech firms in the world. It’s a rule of thumb in the business world that the big you are, the bigger the target you are for lawsuits. The search engine giant is no different. Currently, Google is being sued by Oracle, the proprietor of the computer language Java, to the sum of one billion dollars. Oracle contends that Google’s mobile platform, Android, uses patented aspects of Java. Google contends that the aspects that they used are open source and therefore not subject to copyright law. It’s an interesting case, revolving around the linchpin of the nature of modern intellectual property law.

Former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, testified that Java APIs were not subject to copyright since Google didn’t use the Java name in their products. The company Sun Microsystems, created Java and was then acquired by Oracle in 2010. However, Chairman Scott McNealy of Sun, claimed that Google did violate their patents. He also claimed that Google’s actions were hurting his company. It should be noted that in the five years that Google has released platform based phones no law suit was filed. It was only after Oracle bought Sun were motions filed.

This is an interesting case. Everyone from IT professionals to ice cream truck drivers will be indirectly affected. This lawsuit is more than two companies fighting over bits of codes. At the heart of the matter is a debate on how we treat and share data. We live in an age where data can be copied without a track. Data is as real as it is intangible.