Apple and Samsung square up in US court

Mon 30th of July 2012, filed under Design

Court case begins

Apple and Samsung will take their long-standing feud over smartphone patents to court today.

In one of the biggest trials of its kind, the two companies will air their arguments over the coming weeks in a California courtroom. Which patents have been infringed, if any, will be decided by a ten-person jury which is being chosen today. Apple initially accused Samsung of "slavishly copying" the iPhone and iPad in April 2011, and Samsung's decision to countersue resulted in the whole case being taken to court. The trial will focus on seven Apple patents and five Samsung patents that the companies accuse their opponents of breaching. A final attempt at mediation talks broke down last week.

The battle over smartphone patents has seen both sides suffer in recent months. Samsung's Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Tab 10.1 (pictured) have been banned from sale in the US pending the results of the trial, causing a serious dent in sales. In the UK meanwhile, a high court judge ruled that Apple must say Samsung did not copy its technology on the Apple UK website.

High stakes

If the jury finds in favour of Apple, Samsung could be ordered to pay $2.5bn (£1.6bn) in damages - one of the largest payments in US legal history. However, the implications could also be devastating for other smartphone manufacturers and parts suppliers; the ability to 'own' technologies that are essential in any smartphone could result in crippling royalty payments.

Richard Frost, managing editor at theEword, said: "Any trial relating to patents is bound to be long and very technical, but it seems with so much at stake neither company is willing to back down. The law on patents and intellectual property obviously needs to be clear and enforced, but not to the extent that it hampers innovation and healthy competition."

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