When Apple (NASDAQ:
) decided to
sue the world
for patent infringement, the Mac maker had no idea that it would
lead to a long and arduous string of international court battles.
If the company had known that almost every victory would result
in the ban of products that are 12 months old, Apple might have
thought twice before taking action. There is no going back,
however. Apple is now embroiled in dozens of legal disputes all
over the world. Instead of signing a simple agreement with its
competitors (as it did with
), Apple's legal team will remain in court for the next several
In today's victory, Apple has successfully banned the sale of
"some" Samsung products in the Netherlands after a Dutch court
ruled that they infringed on Apple's patents. It is not known
exactly what products are being taken off store shelves.
, the ban only affects products that run Android 2.2.1 or higher
use Samsung's proprietary photo gallery software. Samsung
upgraded its older models -- including the Ace and the Galaxy S
II -- after a Dutch court
banned the sale of those products
last year. Newer Samsung phones, such as the Galaxy S III, also
contain the new software.
Thus, the best Apple can hope for is a ban on old products --
which is essentially what it got last year. The Galaxy S II was
the only new item in the portfolio.
This is another area where patent law has failed the tech
industry. By the time each legal dispute makes it to court, the
(allegedly) infringing products are old news. If consumers are no
longer buying these products in mass quantities, then any
resulting ban is more of a public relations win than anything
Samsung stands to lose more than its reputation, however. The
South Korean manufacturer has been ordered to reveal how much
money it has made since June 27, 2011. The court will then decide
how much of that profit must be paid to Apple.
In the event that Samsung continues to infringe on the patent,
the company will be ordered to pay a penalty of 100,000 Euros
($129,000 in the U.S.) for every day of violation.
These penalties could prove to be a potent deterrent for
future patent infringements. But that does not change the
absurdity of the product ban. Even if Samsung
violate Apple's patents, it is pointless to ban the sale of a
product that few consumers want or care about.
If the legal system moved faster, it might allow tech
companies to ban patent-infringing products immediately after
release. This would lead to a massive decline in sales for new
products, which would be a far greater deterrent than any
financial penalty that may come at a later date.
In addition to the ongoing legal troubles between Apple and
Samsung, Nokia (NYSE:
) is now
trying to stop
Research In Motion (NASDAQ:
) from selling most of its existing devices. RIM sales are
declining, and BlackBerry 10 has been delayed multiple times and
will not ship until next year. RIM shares are down more than 30
percent year-to-date. But Nokia still wants to ban the sale of
old RIM devices -- which are selling poorly as consumers wait for
the release of BB10 handsets -- in America.
(c) 2012 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.