Apple’s legal effort to block the sale of Samsung’s line of Galaxy smartphones and tablets has seen some success across Europe and in Australia. As for Apple’s efforts to win an injunction preventing Samsung from selling its allegedly infringing products in the US, well, we’ll have an answer to that in just a few weeks.
This past July, Apple filed a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to block the sale of four Samsung products – the Samsung Infuse 4G, the Galaxy S 4G, the Droid Charge, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
In an interesting, though not wholly unexpected, turn of events, Verizon last week filed a motion in the Northern District of California seeking to block Apple’s request for an injunction arguing that granting Apple’s request “would hinder Verizon Wireless in developing and deploying its next generation on that network, and will undercut key public policy goals, including expansion of American’s access to broadband networks and faster communication with emergency personnel.”
Clearly, Verizon has its own self-interest at heart and it’s attempt to paint Apple’s motion for an injunction as an affront to public policy goals and a hindrance to efficient communication with emergency personnel rings hollow.
Whether or not Samsung’s 4G products come to Verizon should have no impact on Verizon’s development and roll out of its 4G network. The impact Verizon is truly alluding to is the one an injunction would have on its own bottom line.
Further, I’d venture to say, quite uncontroversially no less, that there’s a far greater public interest in upholding intellectual property rights with in the broader tech community than there is in keeping Verizon’s pockets padded with the profits derived from products that rip off the innovations of other companies.
If we examine Verizon’s logic for what it truly is, their self-interest in advertising a 4G network with a plethora of devices trumps Apple’s interest in protecting its intellectual property rights. Are we supposed to take Verizon’s motion here to mean that companies should be given carte blanch to infringe upon the intellectual property of others as long as it doesn’t affect Verizon’s profitability?
Verizon drives the point home in this excerpt from their brief:
An injunction would prohibit some of the newest, most advanced wireless devices sold today and impede the growth of Verizon Wireless’s high-speed 4G network. The accused Samsung devices are among the few products that can access Verizon Wireless’s next-generation high speed network and therefore are among the most sought-after devices by early-adopting consumers – a critical market segment in the industry. Verizon Wireless has invested and is investing billions in developing and deploying its next-generation Long Term Evolution (‘LTE’) 4G network; that investment depends on consumers having access to devices that can make use of that network. Samsung is one of only six manufacturers (including HP, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Pantech) that has developed and is offering a limited number of such devices today. Moreover, the motion to enjoin Samsung’s devices comes at a critical moment: when Verizon Wireless is expanding its LTE network to paying customers and right before the holiday shopping season.
Note that Verizon itself highlights a number of other manufacturers that offer 4G enabled devices. Sure, Verizon’s offering of 4G capable devices will be contracted if Apple attains its injunction, but that’s no reason to give Samsung free reign to do as it pleases with the intellectual property of others.
Besides, if we assume that Apple wins an injunction against Samsung’s allegedly infringing products, it won’t be in effect in perpetuity. The fact of the matter is that Samsung could alter its software so that it, you know, doesn’t blatantly copy design elements that appear to be lifted wholesale from Apple’s own products.
Florian Mueller adds:
In the long run, even Verizon’s management should have an interest in ensuring that innovators are sufficiently protected by the legal system. Otherwise everyone can copy whatever has been created before, but investments in continued innovation in this field might be reduced to a trickle. There’s room for improvement. There’s need for improvement. But Verizon’s proposals are too radical to be helpful in any way.
Curiously, Verizon states in their brief that they “support without reservation the protection of intellectual property rights” yet by virtue of filing this motion in the first place, they demonstrate the complete opposite of that.
FOSS Patents has a more detailed breakdown of Verizon’s brief over here. It’s long but well worth the read.