Samsung and Apple have had a longstanding feud. First, the original Galaxy S violating the iPhone’s trade dress, then a patent on slide to unlock and more recently, a patent regarding “quick links”, among others. The quick links patent is in regards to a way for a smartphone to identify and use data on the screen in other applications, such as dialing a phone number by clicking it in the browser. Between the quick links patent, a patent involving slide to unlock and another patent involving autocorrect, Samsung was ordered, back in 2014, to pay out a grand total of $120 million to Apple. Between the truckloads of nickels, Samsung has managed a small few significant wins, with Friday’s appeal win being one of them.
On Friday, February 26, a panel of three judges in the United States’ top patent court, the Federal Circuit, ruled unanimously that Samsung’s appeal was valid and Apple’s three patents involved were invalid. The ruling reverses a verdict from back in May of 2014. The three features in question have since appeared in vanilla Android, making it no big surprise that Apple’s patents on them have been declared invalid. The slide to unlock patent in particular has been contested a few times, with the 2014 ruling being the first time around the courtroom for Quick Links. With the patents invalid and the ruling overturned, UI designers for all platforms will be free to make use of these mechanics in future products.
Samsung and Apple’s long court feud looks as though it will continue for the foreseeable future. Apple has won most of the cases in the long string of legal battles and is likely to continue to do so, for the most part, but this recent win may set a precedent for Samsung to be able to appeal future rulings more effectively, as well as for Apple patents to be looked at more closely. Apple recently managed to obtain an injunction in some markets against Samsung’s Galaxy S3, despite it being designed during the worst of the legal battles, with some critics even saying it was specifically designed not to arouse the ire of Apple’s legal department.