Should you avoid Samsung smartphones after Apple’s patent win?


Posted August 28, 2012, 5:38 pm MT

Should you avoid Samsung smartphones after Apple’s patent win?

By Andy Vuong

People walk by banners advertising Samsung and Apple’s smart phones at a mobile phone shop in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012.

In boxing terms, the Apple-Samsung patent battle was as lopsided as the much-hyped Tyson-Spinks heavyweight fight from the late 1980s that ended with Iron Mike’s first-round knock out.

But while Spinks retired after the beat down, Samsung has vowed to appeal a San Jose jury’s finding that the electronics maker willfully infringed on several of Apple’s patents.

As such, Samsung smartphones will continue to operate like Samsung smartphones, and you’ll continue to be able to buy them in stores, at least for the coming months.

Apple’s request to ban the sale of eight Samsung smartphones faces a tough test.

“Typically the courts look at a four-factor test,” said Rob Brunelli, a Denver patent attorney with Sheridan Ross PC. “(1)Whether Apple is being irreparably harmed by the continuing infringing activity of Samsung, (2)whether the likelihood of the appeal that Samsung will bring will be successful, (3)whether the public interest supports the entry of a permanent injunction and (4)whether the permanent injunction is so harmful to Samsung and so unnecessary to Apple that it just shouldn’t issue.”

The court has to consider all four factors and balance them before granting or denying Apple’s call for an injunction.

“There will be a lot of wrangling and it could be months before the court decides whether or not an injunction will issue, and if so, what the scope of that injunction might be,” said Brunelli, who has followed the case but has no involvement.

Beyond that, the eight smartphones listed in Apple’s request are somewhat dated devices (Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge, Galaxy Prevail, and five versions of the Galaxy S2) and don’t include Samsung’s top release this year, the Galaxy S III.

Brunelli believes that Apple has a “reasonable to better than reasonable chance” of winning some sort of injunction. Even if it does, that doesn’t necessarily mean Samsung will stop developing new products that use the disputed technology, such as the pinch-to-zoom feature.

The companies may end up cutting a licensing deal, similar to Dish and EchoStar’s settlement with TiVo to end their long-simmering patent battle.

In the long term, the story may be different if Apple wins a permanent injunction and proceeds to target additional Samsung devices.

For now, don’t let Friday’s verdict dissuade you from committing two years to that Samsung Galaxy S3, which is a standout smartphone. But keep in mind that Apple’s next-gen iPhone is expected to be unveiled next month and will likely be the hit of the holidays.

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