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Apple’s Latest Suit Against Samsung May Target Google

Publication Date: 
March 31, 2014
KQED - News Fix
Mina Kim and Associated Press

Professor Mark Lemley explains why it's more lucractive for Apple to go after Samsung, instead of Google, in the latest patent lawsuit between the two companies on KQED's New Fix. 

Jury selection began Monday in the latest legal battle between the fiercest rivals in the world of smartphones, with Apple and Samsung accusing each other, once again, of ripping off designs and features.

The trial in Silicon Valley marks the latest round in a long-running series of lawsuits between the two tech giants that underscore a much larger concern about what is allowed to be patented.


Mark Lemley, a law professor at Stanford University who teaches patent law, believes instead of suing Samsung, Apple could have gone after Google; the maker of the Android operating system running on Samsung’s phones. So why not sue Google?

“This is where the money is,” Lemley said. “The Android OS is open source, Google doesn’t sell it to anybody. Samsung makes a lot of money selling phones, and it’s much easier to persuade a jury to force Samsung to give up some of its phone revenue than it is to go after a company that has given away open source software for free.”

In the suit, Apple demands that Samsung pay a $40 royalty for each Samsung device running software allegedly conceived by Apple. Lemley thinks that is a “very aggressive” number.

“It’s hard to say that having ‘Slide-to-Unlock’ and Autocomplete and a couple of the features are really responsible for what could easily be 20 percent of the entire value of the phone,” Lemley added.


Lemley believes the litigation is in part because of Apple’s worry that competitors are eroding their market share — competitors that are all using Android OS.