Apple Lawsuit Against Samsung May Be 'Public Relations Effort'
Apple surprised the tech community this week by filing a comprehensive lawsuit against Samsung claiming Samsung's phones infringed on multiple Apple designs, including the iPhone and iPad. However, a settlement, or even an injunction, may not be what Apple wants.
The Apple lawsuit has specific (and, by most accounts, solid) arguments explaining why recent Samsung design choices for its Android smartphones and tablet are blatant rip-offs of established Apple designs. While it seems a bit extreme that Apple alleges these infringements could fool some consumers into thinking Samsung devices are iPhone s (wouldn’t the lack of a large Apple logo on the back be a big clue?), the other claims may have merit.
In other words, it seems as though Apple has a serious chance of affecting Samsung's line of smartphones and tablets, though it would take time for an actual judgment.
"It is possible that Apple will take the suit all the way to judgment and win, forcing Samsung (and possibly others) to redesign their phones and tablets," Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School, told TechNewsDaily.
But lawsuits can be multipurpose tools in the world of business, and it seems that Apple may have different goals in mind than a payout or injunction for Samsung.
"Far more likely is that this is part of a public relations effort by Apple to try to derail the momentum Android has going by introducing uncertainty into the marketplace," Lemley said.
Apple has made many complaints in the past about Android copying iOS interface designs and multitouch gestures. In fact, Apple has already sued other Android smartphone makers, such as HTC and Motorola, with these claims.
As Lemley points out, it's possible that the series of lawsuits are merely meant to intimidate Android manufacturers and disrupt Android smartphone development. Manufacturers may lose time trying to preemptively change their Android implementations in order to avoid further lawsuits. It also makes Apple's iOS look better as an industry-leading innovation and implies that Android makers are greedy copycats. That kind of public image has a significant impact on sales.
There are other reasons to suggest that Apple never had plans to go all the way with the Samsung lawsuit.
"Given that Samsung is a supplier to Apple, and has plenty of patents of its own, I doubt the parties will want to take this case to trial," Lemley said.
It's impossible to know what Apple's motives are behind the lawsuits, but the iPhone maker certainly knows the power lawsuits have to affect public opinion.