Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd take their battle for mobile supremacy to court today in one of the biggest-ever technology patent trials, a case with the potential to reshape a fast-evolving market they now dominate.
The tech titans will lock horns in a federal courtroom in San Jose, California, just miles from Apple’s headquarters. The stakes are high, with Samsung facing potential U.S. sales bans of its Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers, and Apple in a pivotal test of its worldwide patent litigation strategy. Both sides are seeking financial damages from the other.
Samsung has rapidly overtaken Apple, creator of the iPhone and iPad, and Nokia to become the world’s largest smartphone maker. Together, Apple and Samsung account for more than half of smartphone sales globally.
Apple sued Samsung last year in San Jose, claiming its smartphones and tablets slavishly copied the iPhone and iPad. The South Korean company countersued. Since then, the two have expanded their fight to courtrooms in nearly a dozen other countries.
At this trial, Apple is seeking at least $2.53 billion in damages, though U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh could triple that figure if she finds Samsung willfully infringed Apple’s patents.
The dispute has reached deep into the tech sector, with companies including Microsoft Corp, IBM Corp, Nokia and Research in Motion Ltd filing court papers this week to try to keep their own patent licensing agreements from being disclosed during the trial.
A loss for Samsung could lead to permanent sales bans against products including the flagship Galaxy S III phone, said Nick Rodelli, a lawyer and adviser to institutional investors for CFRA Research in Maryland. While the S III is not at issue in the trial, if Apple prevails the company could later ask Koh to block sales of that product.