The Apple-Samsung patent battle has escalated into the greatest and loudest legal knife fight of the 21st Century. Billions of dollars are at stake, and for Apple, this is the biggest legal fight of its life since the "look-and-feel" lawsuit it waged against Microsoft in the late 1980s. Apple was largely rebuffed in that suit, and the sting of that loss has never fully diminished in Cupertino. Apple does not intend to lose this battle against Samsung, a skirmish that essentially hinges on Apple's iPhone and iPad designs and to what extent (if any) Samsung copied them to create its current lineup of smartphones and tablets.
The stakes are high. Apple is looking for over $2 billion in damages. If granted, those damages, and the financial hit Samsung would take to pull its products from store shelves and produce entirely new versions, would devastate the Korean electronics giant.
But, for Apple, this battle is about more than Samsung. At its heart, this battle is about Apple claiming foul against the multitude of Android-powered devices from practically every manufacturer currently flooding the market with iPhone and iPad-like phones and tablets. The patent lawsuit against Samsung is just one of dozens Apple has launched against so-called copycats throughout the industry. But this particular case against Samsung, which is finally coming to a head in a San Jose courtroom this month, is very likely going to serve as the precedent from which all of Apple's other patent battles will triumph or fail.
"I'd highly prefer to settle versus battle… I've always hated litigation. We need people to invent their own stuff."
- Tim Cook, Apple earnings call, April 2012
On August 24th, Tim Cook will have been Apple's CEO for one year. For Cook, much of the last twelve months has been about stepping out of the shadow of one of America's most lauded business leaders, and establishing himself at the helm of the most valuable consumer electronics company in the world. Cook's first year of command has been (predictably) a tentative march of baby steps, noteworthy mostly for a number of incremental improvements to already well-established consumer products.
When Cook was named Apple's CEO in August 2011, the company was already engaged...
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