We’ve just recently mentioned the Samsung Galaxy Nexus release
and the never-ending Apple-versus-Samsung legal battles
is currently winning), and here the ‘twain do meet: According to the Yonhap News Agency, Samsung
’s mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun (pictured below) stated that the Galaxy Nexus was designed to avoid any potential patent disputes with Apple.
"Now we will avoid everything we can and take patents very seriously,” he was quoted as saying. He also said, "We will see if (the Galaxy Nexus) will be 100 percent free (from Apple-fueled litigation)”.
In other words, Samsung is sick and tired (or alarmed and nervous) of fighting with Apple just to get its products in front of customers. Apple has already blocked sales of the Galaxy Tab in Germany and Australia, and the Yonhap report pointed out that the legal war between the two now consists of 30 cases in 10 countries. Worse, there is no end in sight for the stream of suits and counter-suits between the two tech giants.
In the report, Jong-kyun apparently lamented that “having technological power and being business savvy aren't enough". It would be difficult to find a more depressing statement regarding technology. Since when is having great products and a successful marketing and distribution plan not enough for a company to be successful (luck notwithstanding)?
The patent wars are a fine example of waste all across the board. Patents are often nebulous, vague, and/or confusing to begin with, so it can be rather easy to violate one without knowing it. Then, spending untold amounts of cash on legal costs quibbling over them just seems absurd; there’s a difference between protecting your intellectual property and trying to screw the other guy just because you can.
We’re not suggesting necessarily that either Samsung or Apple are spraying each other with frivolous lawsuits, but you have to wonder how much of this mess is comprised of legitimate patent infringement claims and how much is just legal gamesmanship.
In any case, it’s both good and bad that Samsung is coming out with a major product (in the form of the Galaxy Nexus) that should be free of patent troubles. It’s good because that means that consumers will be free to purchase it if they so choose, and the market can determine the product’s success. It’s bad because it means that the courts are potentially shaping--or at least in some way influencing--the products that we buy. (Granted, it’s possible that Samsung is indeed guilty of patent infringement, unwittingly or not, and the fact that the company is making products that specifically don’t use the contested patents may simply mean that justice has been served.)
This development is also disconcerting because even with all the above said, and all that effort put into a legal trouble-free product, even the president of Samsung’s mobile division isn’t 100% certain that there are no potential patent challenges that Apple could make to the Galaxy Nexus.