updated 11:00 am EDT, Tue May 14, 2013
Second patent suit against Samsung scheduled for spring 2014
Apple has told the US District Court in California hearing motions for the upcoming second patent-infringement trial against Samsung that it intends to add the Galaxy S4 as an infringing device. In order to do so, the iPhone maker will have to drop one of its previously-listed infringing devices from the list, such as the Galaxy S III, S II, Note or Nexus (among other possible models). Judge Lucy Koh is attempting to keep both companies down to a minimum number of patent claims and infringing devices.
Samsung has not yet responded to the change in filing, but has claimed that Apple should be limited in its accusations to having to list each individual variation of a product as a claim of infringement rather than a class of models. For example, Samsung has said that because the Galaxy S4 is sold on different carriers that may use different bands for communication or have models that use different versions of Android, those models should each count as one claim -- the practical effect of which would be to dramatically reduce the number of phones Apple can claim are infringing.
In a response to this claim, Apple points out that Samsung itself does not obey its own logic on this, noting that Samsung has filed infringement claims against the MacBook Air as a single product (rather than differentiating each model) and the iPhone 5 (rather than separating the CDMA iPhone 5 from the GSM iPhone 5, or the Sprint one from the T-Mobile one). The new trial, which is expected to start next spring, covers different patent disputes between Apple and Samsung from those covered in the first trial, which Apple won overwhelmingly.
In its new filing, Apple said it had examined the S4 after its release and "concluded that it is an infringing device and accordingly intends to move for leave to add the Galaxy S4." It has not indicated what device it would remove from its list of 22 infringing Samsung devices in order to add the S4 presuming it gets permission to do so, but the list includes several older and discontinued models that could be candidates to "swap out" for the current and flagship Galaxy S4.
Interestingly, Apple does not appear likely to ask for a sales ban on the product this time, as it did with the Galaxy S III prior to its launch. In part this could stem from the fact that the S4 has not been as well-received as initially expected, particularly in North America. The general impression of the S4 from critics' consensus is that while a worthy iPhone competitor, it did not offer much in the way of substantial improvements over the Galaxy S III.