The high tech patent wars have taken an interesting turn. A patent infringement suit by Apple against Samsung could, in the end, ban Samsung products from the USA, at least the IPad and IPhone lookalikes that the company makes. The issue of patents for hand held devices led to the Google purchase of Motorola Mobility , for its patents. As companies develop new, faster, smarter technologies for hand held devices they still need the basic building blocks of computer code and other technologies to make their products work. When a company discovers that a competitor has developed a product similar to their own the company often finds it easier to sue their competitor than to out-compete them in the market place. Of course in the suit that might ban Samsung products from the USA Apple will contend that Samsung found it easier to copy Apple technology than to develop their own. Another issue in these patent wars is that an overly broad patent may deny an entire market to all competitors and in itself be found to be anticompetitive.
Will Apple Succeed in Its Attempt to Ban Samsun Products from the USA?
A recent news item is instructive. In pretrial proceedings Apple asked that Samsung preserve all emails pertinent to this issue. It turns out that Samsung went ahead and deleted them. The legal issue apparently was if the jury was to be told that it could draw its own conclusions from that fact. The court has apparently decided that the jury can draw its own conclusions, such as that Samsung had things to hide. In high tech cases it is often the jury’s perception of the honesty and integrity of one side versus the other that decides the case. It may well be that deleting pertinent emails may cause the jury to ban Samsung products from the USA. It is also germane that the civil trial is taking place on Apple’s home turf, San Jose, California where Silicon Valley folks may well choose their own over a foreign competitor. The trial also has wider implications as Apple may be using these proceedings in order to develop a strategy for patent cases across the world. While we wrote previously that one may wish to invest in Apple for the dividend , in the end the better choice for buying Apple may be its list of patents.
What Samsung Stands to Lose if They Ban Samsung Products from the USA
Last quarter Samsung reported a nearly $6 billion profit of which a substantial portion came from the Galaxy S phone. In the short term a loss in US courts could reduce income for Samsung and any jury award would be a minus. However, Samsung sells its products all over the world and it would take Apple years if not decades to pursue Samsung in every court that makes a difference. Long before then Samsung will have purchased companies with appropriate patents or redone its own technology in order to avoid any hint of infringement on Apple of any other high tech company.
Apple versus Samsung
Apple was trading at around $400 a share a year ago and is trading at around $600 a share now. Samsung is a Korean electronics conglomerate that currently trades around 1,200,000 Korean Won. It has ranged as high as 1,400,000 and as low as 600,000 in the last year. Fundamental analysis tells us that both companies are large, prosperous, and unlikely to be gravely damaged by an adverse result in the upcoming trial even if the jury decides to ban Samsung products from the USA for the short term.