Earlier this year, the news media was buzzing with anticipation as an American court heard a patent infringement lawsuit in which Apple claimed that Samsung had ripped off several prominent features of the iPhone and related devices. In a stunning verdict that Samsung is still appealing, Apple was awarded over 1 billion dollars in damages as Samsung was found guilty on nearly all counts. Across the internet battles erupted between rabid Apple fans and those who took the verdict as another data point to prove how broken the United States’ patent system is. Today, copyright opponents might have been handed another nail for that coffin.
Apple wasn’t satisfied to merely prosecute Samsung in the U.S. – they’ve been waging copyright war against Samsung in several countries including Korea, Japan and Germany. Both Korea and Japan have already ruled against Apple and this morning, Germany joined them in dismissing Apple’s lawsuits with a vengeance.
FOSS Patents reports that the Mannheim Regional Court announced a decision this morning against Apple’s claim that Samsung (and in fact nearly all Android devices) infringed their patent EP20098948 for a “Touch event model.” This law suit, as with most of Apple’s foreign lawsuits, ended up actually costing Apple money, not only for their own defense but also for Samsung’s defense since Germany has a rather strict set of rules about the loser paying the legal fees.
As Apple continues to lose more and more legal battles throughout Europe and Asia, it speaks volumes to those of us on the anti-patent/copyright side of the fence. I won’t lie about my bias, I feel that while Apple typically makes good products, they’ve been overly litigious in recent days. I’m not alone in feeling that Apple should never have been granted a patent for the rounded rectangle. I’m not alone in feeling wronged for such an outright ludicrous patent having been enforced by the courts of my country. Apparently, however, my country is alone in actually enforcing absurd patents.
The German patent related to the internal workings of several multi-touch gestures, a far more important utility patent than anything covered in August’s verdict, yet the German courts upheld a decent and honest decision, just like Japan and Korea did. Why is America alone in this insanity?
In related news, Samsung is counter-suing Apple now. This is the shape of things now. A sues B, B counter-sues A, we all waste time and money in the form of the taxpayer-funded legal system to decide whose rounded rectangles came first and in the end it’ll probably all just wash out – but who can blame Samsung? Apple started burning their house down and in a screwed-up hyper-competitive world without water, the only way to stay competitive is for Samsung to burn Apple’s house down too.
This is the sad state of the American legal landscape – but on the plus side, the shiny new Samsung phone I bought yesterday is pretty cool.