SYDNEY (Reuters) - Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co began the latest round of their long-running global patent war on Monday as an Australian judge started hearing evidence for an anticipated three-month long trial.
Apple and Samsung have been locked in an acrimonious battle across 10 countries involving smartphones and tablets since April 2011, with the Cupertino, California-based company filing a suit in Australia saying the touch-screen technology used in Samsung's new Galaxy 10.1 tablet violates Apple patents.
The quarrel has triggered expectations that some of the pair's $5 billion-plus relationship may be up for grabs. Samsung counts Apple as its biggest customer and makes parts central to Apple's mobile devices.
While any decision in the Australian case is unlikely to have a substantial impact in other jurisdictions like Europe or the United States where the technology giants are also suing each other, the trial proceedings could reshape the legal strategies employed by Apple and Samsung in other countries, lawyers say.
Mark Summerfield, a patent lawyer and senior associate with Melbourne-based law firm Watermark, said "there's no doubt there's a strategic and psychological effect" attached to the Australian case. "Courts in other countries will watch what is happening here," he said.
Apple and Samsung representatives declined to comment on Monday at the hearing.
The Australian case arose in April 2011 when Apple said Samsung copied the design of some of its tablet and smart phone devices. Samsung has since launched a counterclaim in Australia alleging that Apple infringed a number of South Korean technology firm's data-transmission patents.
The lawsuits from both companies are being heard as one case in the Australian federal court.
Samsung won an early round of the Australian litigation when it succeeded in overturning an injunction on the sale of its Galaxy 10.1 tablet in Australia just before Christmas last year.
But Apple won a heavyweight U.S. round when a judge banned the sale of both Samsung's Galaxy 10.1 tablet and the Galaxy Nexus phone ahead of a formal trial there. Patent cases are also pending in Britain and Germany.
Summerfield said that unless the two companies come to a global settlement, the Australian case is likely to run until well into 2014 as an appeal to any ruling at the end of the current trial "is a 100 percent certainty."
(Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by Matt Driskill)
Would You Just Look At All Of These iPhone 5 Cases?
This week's biggest Apple rumors were all about CASES! Sexy and you know it, supposed iPhone 5 cases <a href="http://cydiablog.com/new-iphone-5-tpu-case-6th-generation/" target="_hplink">kept popping up like dandelions</a> this week, perhaps giving us a hint about the specifications of the next iPhone (because case manufacturers -- mostly based in China -- pay for what is supposedly inside information from Apple's supply chain about the size and build of upcoming gadgets, so that they can get a headstart on designing cases and be ready for bulk sales when the device is unveiled). Girl look at these cases: <a href="http://www.tvc-mall.com/details/S-Shape-TPU-Gel-Case-Cover-for-iPhone-5-Black-IPHONE5-601A/" target="_hplink">Available at Chinese parts supplier TVC-mall</a>, the cases line up with what we've seen <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/13/iphone-5-photos-ipad-mini-leaks-apple-rumors_n_1671809.html" target="_hplink">from alleged iPhone leaks</a> over the past several weeks: A taller, thinner device, with the headphone jack moved to the bottom and a much smaller dock connector. The device is said to be getting taller, of course, to accommodate a bigger screen, which will supposedly come in at about 4.0-inches diagonally. Case-makers are not infallible, of course. For example, on September 15, 2011, about a month before the iPhone 4S was unveiled, Boy Genius Report <a href="http://www.bgr.com/2011/09/15/iphone-5-to-have-radical-new-design-according-to-case-mate-images/" target="_hplink">posted an article</a> with the headline "iPhone 5 to have radical new design according to Case-Mate images," complete with slideshow of these images. Apple 1, case-makers 0. Let's see if case-makers can even the score this year.
Here's Another (Alleged) iPhone 5 Case
<a href="http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fapple.pro%2Findex.php?do%3D%2Fblog%2F132%2Fiphone5%25E7%258E%25BB%25E7%2592%2583%25E9%259C%25B2%25E5%2587%25BA-ipad-mini-%25E5%2585%25B7%25E6%259C%2589%25E9%259B%25BB%25E8%25A9%25B1%25E5%258A%259F%25E8%2583%25BD%2F" target="_hplink">This one's from Chinese Apple-watcher Apple.pro</a> and, too, shows the taller screen; we're also looking at a front-facing camera that has been moved to the center of the iPhone for head-on video-chatting. The original article is written in Chinese, so let's go to Google Translate for some insight from Apple.pro reporter Anthony Tsai: <blockquote>Although the 2012 summer vacation hot ~ But the news of Apple's New iPhone (iPhone5) with the iPad mini hot ... Apple -- consistent self-adhere to is -- step by step toward the market demand and compromise Drift or to persist in the end To see Tim Cook how the leadership of the future direction of Apple ... </blockquote> Beautifully written. You can "read" <a href="http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fapple.pro%2Findex.php?do%3D%2Fblog%2F132%2Fiphone5%25E7%258E%25BB%25E7%2592%2583%25E9%259C%25B2%25E5%2587%25BA-ipad-mini-%25E5%2585%25B7%25E6%259C%2589%25E9%259B%25BB%25E8%25A9%25B1%25E5%258A%259F%25E8%2583%25BD%2F" target="_hplink">the full post here through Google Translate</a>, or if you speak Chinese, <a href="http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fapple.pro%2Findex.php?do%3D%2Fblog%2F132%2Fiphone5%25E7%258E%25BB%25E7%2592%2583%25E9%259C%25B2%25E5%2587%25BA-ipad-mini-%25E5%2585%25B7%25E6%259C%2589%25E9%259B%25BB%25E8%25A9%25B1%25E5%258A%259F%25E8%2583%25BD%2F&anno=2" target="_hplink">the original article is available for you here</a>.
Verizon CFO Hints At Fourth Quarter iPhone Launch...Maybe
During a company conference call this past week Verizon CFO Fran Shammo supposedly intimated that the next iPhone might come out in the fourth quarter of this year. <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57475543-37/verizon-drops-a-hint-on-a-possible-q4-iphone-5-launch/" target="_hplink">CNET picked up on it</a> with an article called "Verizon drops a hint on a possible Q4 iPhone 5 launch." <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2012/7/19/3169505/verizon-ct-iphone-launch-q4-rumor" target="_hplink">The Verge has Shammo's actual words</a>: <blockquote>When asked what might have held customers back from upgrading their devices in Q2, Shammo said that "of course there's always that, uh, rumor mill out there with a new phone coming out there in the fourth quarter, so people may be waiting." </blockquote> Here's what this sounds like to me: Shammo is referencing when the rumor mill is saying the iPhone will come out, not actual inside information. Anyone who reads any technology website knows that for months now there have been rumors that the iPhone 5 would be released in September or October; even <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/18/apple-peter-oppenheimer-iphone-rumors_n_1018715.html" target="_hplink">Apple acknowledges that</a> this rumor mill causes customers (for good reason) to wait to upgrade their phones. Shammo knows the rumors exist and knows what they're saying. He didn't divulge anything here (even if the iPhone does come out in the fourth quarter, which every indication points to). Moving along.
Apple Television To Be U.S. Only, Launch In 2014?
Could a (hypothetical) Apple-made television hypothetically be available only in the United States at launch? Hypothetically, yes! At least that's what <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/news/apple-news/rumour-mill/apple-itv-to-be-us-only-at-launch" target="_hplink">two industry analysts told Stuff.tv</a> in a discussion on a (still hypothetical) Apple television. The analysts -- Paul Erickson of IMS and the excellently-named Giles Cottles of Informa -- <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/news/apple-news/rumour-mill/apple-itv-to-be-us-only-at-launch" target="_hplink">explained to Stuff Dot TV</a> that, due to various content licensing agreements across nations, neither would be surprised if the Apple television (which we're not even sure exists yet) went on sale only in the U.S., when (and if) it is released, to be followed by other countries when those agreements get worked out. Obviously, we're not reading too much into the report, as this seems like the idle speculation of analysts, not based on even the most anonymous or flimsy of "sources with knowledge of the situation." It's more chatter than reportage, in other words. In any case, the argument for an America-first launch for a so-called "iTV" does make sense, especially taking into account how difficult it is to stream studio content in different countries. (Netflix, in the midst of an international expansion, can tell you.) So, the iTV could launch in America, and only America, first, and you'll be able to brag to your French cousins that you have one and they don't. Let's hear it for American exceptionalism!
New York Times Joins The iPad Mini Chants
<a href="http://www.macrumors.com/2012/07/03/bloomberg-ipad-mini-coming-in-october/" target="_hplink">Bloomberg </a>and the <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/wsj-ipad-mini-launch-coming-soon-144500994.html" target="_hplink"><em>Wall Street Journal</em></a> have both heard that Apple is planning a smaller iPad for launch later this year, and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/16/technology/apple-may-meet-tablet-competition-with-smaller-ipad.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">now the <em>New York Times</em> is on it</a> with a similar article. A so-called iPad Mini, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/16/technology/apple-may-meet-tablet-competition-with-smaller-ipad.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">writeth the <em>Times</em></a>, featuring a 7.85-inch display and costing "significantly less" than the $499 starting price for the 10-inch iPad, is "expected to be announced this year." This aligns with the Bloomberg and <em>WSJ </em>reports and lends more credence to an upcoming iPad Mini launch, still not a definite; though the <em>Times </em>doesn't give a price, we've been hearing for months that one could go for between $249 and $299, in order to battle $199 tablets Kindle Fire and Nexus 7. Aside from price, the <em>New York Times</em> article leaves another important question unanswered: How will this new iPad Mini <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/nyregion/once-a-staple-awnings-are-losing-their-appeal.html" target="_hplink">affect the popularity of aluminum awnings in Brooklyn</a>? For the love of God, let's get a reporter out to Greenpoint ASAP! That's all for <strong>This Week In Apple Rumors</strong>. Check back next week, when the <em>Times </em>will have an exclusive report on Apple's entrance into the awning market, with a Siri-enabled iAwning planned for release some time in 2013. And if you can't wait a whole week for your Apple rumors, you can get 'em up to the minute by <a href="http://twitter.com/gilbertjasono" target="_hplink">following me on Twitter right here</a>.