Blog Post

Apple, Samsung continue escalating patent fight

Apple’s(s AAPL) abrupt settlement of its mobile patent suit with HTC followed by the revelation that it is seeking arbitration with Motorola(s GOOG) made it seem as though Apple was looking for a way to wind down the patent suits that have engulfed the company for more than two years. But its dispute with Samsung is a different story. The companies don’t act like they’re looking for a truce: instead, they are reloading with more ammunition.

The ammunition in their case is, of course, more products to sue each other over. In the last few days, both companies have added to ongoing lawsuits more products, which they each claim violate mobile patents they own. Apple just asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to amend its lawsuit with six new Samsung mobile devices:  the Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Tab 8.9 Wi-Fi, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, Rugby Pro and Galaxy III Mini.

That came just after Samsung asked that its claims against Apple also now include the latest Apple mobile devices, including the new iPad mini, fourth-generation iPad and latest iPod touch model. Should any of these products be found to infringe on one another’s patents, the end goal is to get them blocked from sale in the U.S. The trial is scheduled for March 2014.

After HTC made a deal with Apple, Samsung’s head of mobile felt compelled to say publicly that his company had no intention of settling with Apple. That seemed rather obvious, considering how far the two companies had come, including a recent billion-dollar verdict for Apple. Both sides remain on the attack, matching each other’s legal moves tit for tat, which demonstrates that neither side is looking to retreat. Even if Apple CEO Tim Cook is far more practical and less emotional than his predecessor when it comes to these matters, the Samsung fight is arguably still different than its other patent suits.

As John Gruber noted over at Daring Fireball, the stakes of this fight are incredibly high: Apple and Samsung are the only two companies reaping any significant profits in the mobile space right now. Though Apple under Cook might view these patent fights as “overhead,” with Samsung it’s a necessary expense right now.