The decision by a U.S. jury that Samsung Electronics copied the designs of Apple's iPhone and iPad has raised concerns over the potential impact on Samsung's bestselling Galaxy S3 smartphone. The Galaxy S3 has seen global sales climb to 10 million units in less than two months since its release in May.
The patent suit focused only on older models including the Galaxy S1 and Galaxy S2. With jurors in the Northern District Court of California deciding that the arrangement of icons and even the zoom function of the Galaxy series are Apple's patented technologies, Samsung may face another shock should Apple file more lawsuits. But Samsung says it has already eliminated design attributes that could cause disputes.
The Galaxy S3 in varying degrees uses five of the seven design or function elements Apple cited. Two of them are related to functions and three to design. Some of these features are come with Google’s android operation system, which is given away free, so phone manufacturers have to carry the can for any disputes that arise.
They include the so-called "finger-to-zoom" function that allows a part of an image to be enlarged using the thumb and index finger, and "double tapping" function that allows a particular image to fill the entire screen.
Samsung put some effort into avoiding a patent dispute with Apple over the design of the Galaxy S3, which it developed after the legal offensive started in April last year. Samsung made the four sides of the S3 bulgy to get around the design patent, but the corners are still rounded. It also changed the shape and placement of its "home" button and other key buttons in a bid to differentiate it from the iPhone's.
Meanwhile, the decision by the jury of non-experts is drawing a barrage of criticism. The rectangle with rounded corners, which jurors said Samsung copied, had already been used by the Korean electronics giant on earlier products over the last five or six years. This is fueling suspicion that Apple launched its patent lawsuit to stifle Samsung’s rapid ascent in the global smartphone market.
Now Apple could target the Galaxy S3. "Apple will not only seek court orders to ban sales of Samsung's products but could apply to the U.S. Trade Commission seeking to ban imports of Samsung's products," said one patent attorney here.