Will Samsung Go the HTC Route? Far From It
Out of the blue, HTC finally agreed to settle things with Apple. The Cupertino, CA-based tech giant sued the Taiwanese mobile device manufacturer as far back as 2010 for patent and copyright infringement. According to the Wall Street Journal, HTC paid its accuser a neat sum of $276 million. However, industry insiders believe this is just part of a larger settlement. Sources further divulge that the ten-year cross-licensing deal between the two companies also involves the Taiwanese paying licensing fees, to the tune of approximately $8 for each device it sells.
Many may see this agreement as a precedent, with other companies following the HTC model to end whatever legal row they have with Apple. But one company is holding its ground and not going the HTC route.
The chief of Samsung, the South Korean firm constantly at odds with Apple, was quick to remind everyone his company has no intention of being the next donor to the Steve Jobs memorial fund. Shin Jong-kyun, Samsung Electronics’ mobile unit head, said in an interview with Yonhap News,
“We have no such intention. It may be true that HTC may have agreed to pay 300 billion won (US$276 million) to Apple, but we don’t intend to (negotiate) at all.”
This stand may be viewed as an act of defiance, a continued brave stance resembling David in a battle against the undisputable Goliath of the mobile device industry. Samsung has become the main adversary of Tim Cook’s empire in almost everything – from dominance in the finicky mobile device market to the well-publicized courtroom battles. In all major markets in the world, the two companies have been engaged in legal duels over some issue, usually concerning copyright and patents.
Observers have noticed one thing though: The Seoul-based firm has been embodying its role as David in this face-off to the hilt, showing a brand of boldness and brashness in fighting the giant of the tech world. Is their position to continue the war against the world’s most valuable company a bit too much? Aren’t they biting off more than they can chew?
Looking closely, J.K. Shin’s team is assuming a very confident position based on two scenarios:
- The company’s sales figures have been in the green, and are set to go up again in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Think of this: The company lost its court battle against Apple in August when a jury ruled that the former “willfully copied” the latter’s products. Yet, according to figures released by IT research firm Gartner, worldwide mobile device sales figures (particularly smartphones) still credit Samsung with owning the largest share, at 22.9%.
The company in November 15 reported profits totaling $7.4 billion in the third quarter of 2012, which means the amount the judge asked the company to pay the iPhone maker is only a couple of weeks’ worth of Galaxy profit. While it was reported in August that the company paid Cook and company a billion dollars’ worth of coins (it was apparently a hoax), people back in Seoul may consider the penalties paid Apple exactly that – spare change.
Of course, it helps that with the holiday shopping season coming, the company is looking for further increases in sales and profits.
- Shin has scored against Cook in some courts.
While the Americans claimed they scored big on that August 24 decision, the South Koreans have also tallied in some solid victories in their numerous court battles.
The “home court” (literally, the Seoul court) dismissed the American company’s claim that Galaxy devices copied the feel and look of iDevices. Similar claims by the Americans have been dismissed as well in Japan (regarding device syncing), Germany (regarding the Galaxy Tab 10. 1 and the iPad), and Australia (regarding all tablet models).
Even the hearing regarding the ban of eight Samsung products in the US has been rescheduled to December 6. Thus, a majority of Samsung products are still available in the US.
All in all, we can safely say that while HTC has been pinned to the wall, J.K. Shin and company have been cautiously confident, and rightfully so. The events of the coming year, should the South Koreans continue to display strength, will prove to be very interesting.