Apple Tries to Block U.S Galaxy S3 Sales in the Most Ridiculous and Backward Way
By: Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)
As you know, Samsung recently revealed its new flagship Galaxy S3 device that is supposed to launch with five major US carriers within the coming weeks. Key words in that sentence? "Supposed to".
The phone has already been pre ordered by close to ten million people and it is expected to launch on a global scale as well. All of these factors are expected to launch the S3 into the category of the best-selling mobile devices of all time, right alongside the iPhone 4S.
While Apple is preparing for its WWDC event and the announcement of iOS 6, the company's legal team is hard at work as well. Apple apparently bought the new S3 when it launched in England last month and the company was not pleased with what it discovered.
Before we get into that, it is important and ironic to mention that just last week Tim Cook, CEO of Apple took the stage at the AllThingsD conference and said that all the patent battles the company has with Samsung, HTC, and others are, and I quote "A pain in the ass.".
Yet, Apple just requested permission to file a motion for preliminary injunction against the Galaxy S3 for the same reasons it did so with the previous Galaxy Nexus.
The two patents in debate here are U.S. Patent No. 8,086,604 and No. 5,946,647. The former is the patent for "Unified Search", provided by Siri on the iPhone and the latter is the ability to click links, phone numbers, and other forms of data within certain content in order to perform an action, such as a phone call.
"Because the Galaxy S III contains two of the exact infringing features already at issue with respect to the Galaxy Nexus, the S III is not more than colorably different from the Galaxy Nexus," Apple wrote in the motion.
Apple also told Cnet "It's no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging, This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas."
In response and to no one's surprise, Samsung said "Samsung believes Apple's request is without merit. We will vigorously oppose the request and demonstrate to the court that the Galaxy S III is innovative and distinctive. We would also like to assure consumers that the U.S. launch and sales of the Galaxy S III will proceed as planned. The Galaxy S III has already been highly received in markets where it has been introduced. Samsung looks forward to bringing the Galaxy S III to the U.S., and we believe that Apple's actions would only serve to disrupt consumers' access to the latest innovative mobile technology."
Now here's the thing with this story... It's ridiculous!
Apple announced the iPhone back in 2007 when smartphones looked like the devices in the picture below.
What did Apple expect? For companies to continue to make phones the way they were always made? Maybe. But then a few years later, the pioneer of the "legacy smartphone", Palm was declared dead. RIM is following in its footsteps. Anyone with two eyes can see that smartphones need to look and act a certain way. We have Apple to thank for that. So come on, Apple. You have created a monster and now you're complaining about it?
Of course phone manufacturers and mobile software companies are going to look to the iPhone for inspiration! You don't like it? Stop making awesome products.
Oh, and one more thing. Universal Search? Really? You want to sue Google for implementing a search function in their OS? Do I even have to explain why that is just so ridiculous on so many levels?
In my opinion, the second patent is more legitimate since Apple did have something truly unique and patentable there, but again, Apple can't expect Samsung and Google to continue driving a Flintstones car when people are already buying flying cars. More importantly, the legal system can't facilitate Apple's childish and aggressive behavior.
Apple has been known to set trends, time and time again. If there is one company that can truly change industries, it is Apple. Think about what the company did to industries including but not limited to mobile, music, movies, books, magazines, tablets, computers, and more. I think it is about time the company applied that forward thinking to the legal world and stop trying to put a stumbling block at the legs of innovation.
Yes, I understand the concept of intellectual property but Apple has to start understanding the more important concept of consumer needs and free market. Competition is healthy and in all honesty, this kind of move by Apple stinks of weakness, which is something the company does everything in its power to distance itself from. Looking at its market value, it does a good job at it too.
All Apple has to do now is align its legal team with the innovation and leadership we see coming out of all the other branches of the company on a daily basis. That shouldn't be too difficult, right? Ultimately, if Apple takes my advice and stops this silliness, it will benefit consumers, but more importantly, it will benefit the company and its long-term brand. Sounds like a win win to me.