Jobs Tried to Head Off Apple-Samsung Patent Battle

Jobs Tried to Head Off Apple-Samsung Patent Battle

Ex-Apple CEO Steve Jobs last year tried to stop a patent battle with Samsung, according to testimony in an Australian court, giving insight into a possible turning point in the two companies’ relationship.

Senior Apple executive Richard Lutton, speaking in an Australian federal court proceeding Wednesday, said Jobs personally called Samsung last summer because of Apple’s close supplier relationship with the South Korean company “to give them a chance to do the right thing.”

However, Samsung released its first Galaxy tab in Germany that September, leading to numerous lawsuits from Apple. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company claims Samsung “slavishly” copied the iPhone and iPad, while Samsung claims Apple illegally used its patents.

“The discussions started with contact from (Jobs), and then he wasn’t involved in meetings beyond that,” Lutton told the federal court, which is hearing evidence to determine whether to block the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia. His testimony may affect the judge’s decision to block Samsung’s devices.

Similar lawsuits have been filed worldwide, with both companies seeking bans against each other’s devices. Apple succeeded in Germany, where courts ordered a ban on the Galaxy 10.1, and in the Netherlands, where a court restricted Samsung smartphones across Europe for violating Apple patents.

Meanwhile, Jobs’ call, and Samsung’s subsequent decision to launch the Galaxy, likely reflected a shift in the companies’ attitudes toward each other.

Samsung’s memory chips and flat panels are important iPad and iPhone components, including memory chips and flat panels, putting pressure on Samsung to keep a positive business relationship with Apple.

On the other hand, the Galaxy line has been a major source of profits for Samsung, and while the company may have weighed Jobs’ call, the South Korean firm likely determined releasing the device was financially necessary.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s testimony has already given Apple a small victory. Samsung had wanted to launch the Galaxy 10.1 on Friday, and Australian Justice Annabelle Bennett was expected to rule on the injunction Thursday.

Bennett, however, took the testimony under consideration and continued the hearing until Friday, saying she would make a decision next week. Samsung opted to hold off on the launch until the decision comes, delaying the launch further and missing out on weekend shoppers’ dollars.

In addition to losing sales, the ongoing litigation will likely result in the loss of Samsung’s suppler relationship with Apple. Japanese tech company TSMC, rather than Samsung, may make Apple’s A5 processor next year. Samsung had supplied chips for Apple’s iPad and iPhone devices, but TSMC is reportedly testing A6 chipsets. Apple and Samsung may cut ties with each other until their mutual litigation is resolved, giving other parties a chance to vie for contracts in the meantime.

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