We have grown pretty accustomed to hearing about the never-ending ping-pong of court cases between Samsung and Apple. It almost seems like their legal departments are in an all-out feud over every single patent and device that sees the light of day. But in an odd twist of fate, the two antagonistic tech giants might stand united in defending against patents they are both accused of infringing.
The common enemy in this odd case is a company by the name of Smartflash and the patents in question have to do with mechanism for controlling access to digital data through payment systems. Apple was targeted by the company for overstepping a subset of these very patents in iTunes and was ordered by court in February to pay $533 million in dues to the small US company.
As if happens, Samsung is now in the line of fire as well for its Media Hub platform. Smartflash lists a total of 7 patents on its website, all of which have to do with “Data storage and access systems” and, according to its legal department, collectively Apple and Samsung are in violation of 6 of them. But while the ruling is already out on Apple’s case, the Korean company has managed to persuade US authorities to revise whether Smartflash had the grounds to be granted said patent In the first place.
If the court rules in favor of Samsung, this would render the Apple settlement redundant, hence the odd helping hand Samsung has extended to its longtime market opponent. But don’t think that Samsung is out on a humanitarian mission, the company is simply protecting its own interests, which just happen to be shared with Apple, a very rare case indeed.
The court’s decision could very well favor the corporate giants, as in recent years, requirements on patent have significantly increased and it is no longer acceptable for a company to protect, what is essentially a business process or methodology, without having an actual technological implementation to back it up. This seems like the case with Smartflash, which merely had an intention to monetize on the technology in 2002 with song sales of pop-singer Britney Spears.
But even if the ruling is in favor of Samsung, Apple might not be able to tag along in the lifeboat. As Justin Oliver, leader of Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto’s office for contested patent office proceedings pointed out about the Cupertino company:
If it’s forced to pay damages, it’s very difficult to get that back.
There are still hearings to be held, as well as decisions to be made on petitions to reconsider the Smartflash patents, filed by both big corporations.
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