Apple v Samsung : the battle explained

1 12 2011

The intellectual property battle between between Apple and Samsung has been raging on since April in courts all over the world. But how did this (what can only be described as epic) battle begin in the first place?

The below infographic sets out the roots and progression of the Apple/Samsung lawsuit. Do you think the mobile designs are too similar?


Apple and Samsung involved in high-tech Mexican stand-off

22 09 2011

It should by now be common general knowledge that Apple and Samsung are engaged in a heated “IP battle” with over 20 IP disputes currently pending internationally in Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States between this California-based company and the South Korean tech giant….

What may be less well-known is that Samsung and Apple in fact have a highly symbiotic relationship. For example, Apple is Samsung’s largest flash memory customer. Not only will Samsung feel it in the pocketbook if Apple stops buying, but many key components of Apple’s consumer electronics line such as the iPad, iPod and iPhone can’t be made without Samsung’s flash memory. What the world has with the ongoing Apple and Samsung war is a real-life high-tech Mexican standoff. Both companies hold the key to the other’s destruction — though their own is nested inside, somewhere just below the surface.

This situation may soon be changing and DigiTimes reports that TSMC (as opposed to Samsung) may be manufacturing Apple’s A5 processor from next year onwards. TSMC is reportedly testing A6 chipsets, which may include the dual or even quad-core ARM-based structures used in the iPhone, iPad and iPod.

This could seriously sour relations between these two rivals even further…. and with so much on the line for both parties, with nothing to lose (other than some  (extensive) litigation fees) it may well be a long time before the curtain closes on this high-tech mini-drama……..

Steve Jobs listed as inventor/designer on 313 of Apple’s patents……

21 09 2011

When people in the technology industry speak of  Steve Job’s knack for design, they often have Apple’s iconic products in mind: the early all-in-one Macintosh computers, the first iMacs with their brightly colored and translucent cases, and more recently, the various iPods, iPhones and iPads.

But what about the striking glass staircases in many of Apple’s stores? Mr. Jobs led their design — and has his name on two patents Apple received for that design. An interesting article showcasing Mr Jobs as a prolific inventor and technical designer was recently published by the New York times and is available here…..

Apparently, Mr. Jobs appears as the principal inventor or as one inventor among several on 313 Apple patents. Most are design patents that cover the look and feel of a product, rather than utility patents….

Still, the number of patents is far larger than those granted to most other technology company chiefs, including those whose technical breakthroughs and inventions were instrumental to their companies’ success. Only nine Microsoft patents carry the name of Bill Gates, a co-founder of the company who was its chief executive for more than two decades before stepping down in 2000. And little more than a dozen Google patents carry the names of the co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, according to a search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Web site.

As Mr. Jobs steps down from the chief executive role, his deep involvement in so many aspects of Apple’s products also brings into sharp focus the question of whether the company’s streak of innovation can continue over the long-term without his hand to guide it….

Legal implications of cloud computing

6 09 2011

Cloud computing, which is generally understood as a model for enabling on-demand network access to an elastic pool of shared computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal service provider interaction, has various advantages and offers exceptional opportunities to a business.  This technology is now finding wide implementation in South Africa in so far as it offers dynamic scalability and flexibility at a reduced cost…..

However, the legal implication of this technology is not perhaps as clearly defined as it could be and the following might provide some handy hints and tips on the matter……

In terms of managing the cloud computing infrastructure, from a legal point of few, certain best practices have been identified in the industry, these are:

  • Find a test case: Test the waters and set up a test case first, thereby minimizing the potential risk to the rest of your system/infrastructure,
  • Understand the cloud infrastructure and the risks: Enhance regular auditing and monitoring in your company,
  • Ownership of information is key: Ensure that you own your information and understand that how your data is going to be handled before the system is implemented,
  • Avoid cross-platform proliferation: Focus on one or perhaps two cloud service platforms at a time,
  • Understand the role and the lack of standards: Develop standard templates of contractual safeguards, data ownership and use limitations.

Customers such as banks, retail and telecommunications companies generally have a standard agreement developed to look after their position to reduce risks through a comprehensive set of terms and schedules.

Cloud vendors are, however, at the other end of the spectrum and the difference between the approaches of the service provider and customer are enormous. For example,  in Cloud vendor contracts, it is normal that warranties are given by the customer instead of by the service provider, and the service providers have a right to suspend your service whenever they choose to do so…this concept is almost unheard of in traditional outsourcing contracts and would certainly be questionable in view of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act….. The CPA would certainly have a large role to play in these negotiations and should be borne in mind when reviewing the Cloud vendor contract……

To bridge this gap, before choosing a service provider, you should firstly analyze the available cloud service providers within the context of the market as a whole and try to derive the core themes and standard practices of each of these service providers……

It if further advised that you analyze the standard terms in your agreements with these service providers in order to identify any potential red herrings before hand as well as identifying those key factors you are prepared to discuss, negotiate, and agree on with the service provider.. …in this way you can filter down to the issues which need to be resolved a lot quicker and focus on those during your negotiations……

China changes tactics on technology patents

29 08 2011

It seems that the Chinese technology industry can no longer be regarded as a breeding ground for blatant IP infringement and patent proliferation with China recorded as the third highest filer of patents in 2010 – 337 497 patent applications have been recorded for the last year. 

The influx of patents not only underscores China’s growing strength in the technology sector, it also reveals a change in the country’s attitude toward intellectual property in general. It seems China is now starting to move toward recognising ideas and their origins….

The increase in patent filings has also sparked an increase in litigation….. Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation (China’s top two telecoms equipment makers) are engaged in litigation proceedings. ZTE filed a lawsuit in China in April saying Huawei had infringed its fourth generation technology. It seems both made progress in selling their mobile communication products in China and they are possibly now using patents as a competition tool…..

In general, intellectual property civil litigation increased in China by 37 percent to 41718 last year, according to the country’s Supreme People’s Court.

It seems the Chinese counterparts to Apple, Google and Samsung are developing their own armoury of patents. The obvious question being: is this to further stifle competition in the global smartphone industry……or have they  acted pre-emptively to the whole global  fist-fight by ensuring that their competitive edge remains as untouchable as possible……..

With reference to The Business Report of 26 August 2011.

Google acquires Motorola patents and suits up for battle……

16 08 2011

After Google’s clear disillusionment with the patent world, as discussed here and evidenced by this recent Google blog post: “We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android…..” Google have decided to acquire Motorola Mobility, the spun-off phone manufacturing wing of the original Motorola.

In terms of the reasons proferred by Google for the acquisition, the following was said on their blogspot: “Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.”

By grabbing Motorola, Google has certainly gained access to more patents to beef up its Android patent portfolio and this will enable it to counter (and respond with counter suits of their own) to any future IP threats……

Therefore, it seems as though, as much as this transaction it is about getting some really, really cool Android hardware out on sale, it is also about protecting the Android phone from further IP battles….clearly their previous patent vulnerability has promted them to prepare more on the patent front and suit-up properly for any potential battles on the horizon…. but in the mean time they are becoming armed and dangerous themselves…..

Kenya’s answer to Sillicon Valley?

15 08 2011

It seems the Kenyan government are looking to advance to the forefront of technology development in Africa and are reportedly seeking private sector investment in the construction of a multi-billion dollar ICT City Park known as Konza Technology City.

The first phase of the development project is expected to cost around US$3 billion. Permanent secretary in the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communication, Dr Bitange Ndemo said upon its completion the project is expected to be Africa’s home of computerization – the equivalent to California’s Silicon Valley, complete with a skyscraper business centre.

Konza City will be a 5000 hectare technology park, which will be located in Mochakos County in Eastern Kenya. The first phase will comprise a science park, business process outsourcing centre, international finance centre, research centre and even a tourism centre…..In phase two, it is expected that 39 000 jobs will be created nationally, with half of those direct jobs to be found within Konza Technology park….

The Tanzanian government has also announced plans to develop a similar ICT park known as Raphta City….

Albeit that I can’t stem my enthusiasm at the prospect of some true technology development originating in Africa…..I must admit: it seems that the willingness of the Kenyan government to invest time and effort into the development and advancement of technology by its people, for its people, has put the South African government’s attempts to do likewise to shame….