Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Is Apple losing all the patent suits it filed outside the U.S.?

September 4, 2012: 11:37 AM ET

A decision in Japan last week added fuel to an oft-repeated Internet myth

Apple headquarters

FORTUNE -- In the lively debates between Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) Android partisans that have accompanied our reports on the Apple v. Samsung patent infringement suit, someone invariably asserts that Cupertino may have won a case on its own home turf, but outside the U.S. every patent suit it files has fallen flat.

Is that true? We put the question to FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller, who follows these matters as closely as anyone outside Apple's legal team.

"You won't be surprised to hear," he replied, "that the assertion is demonstrably false."

Mueller points to a post he wrote in July listing nine Apple and two Microsoft patents that had been deemed by courts to be infringed by Android-based devices, including courts in Munich and Dusseldorf. In addition, he writes,

  • Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 were banned in Germany over the European version of Apple's design patent
  • Apple also won a preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, but that one was lifted on appeal and a final ruling is still pending
  • Apple won an injunction for a photo gallery patent in The Netherlands
  • Apple won an overscroll bounce ("rubber banding") patent case in Korea (although it was also found to have infringed two standards-essential Samsung patents)

Mueller is only counting what he calls "offensive wins." So the ruling by a Japanese court last week that Samsung did not infringe an Apple data-sharing patent wouldn't make his list. Nor did earlier "non wins" in Germany, The Netherlands and the U.K.

"By contrast," he adds, "Samsung has not won anything outside of Korea except an entitlement to a tiny amount of damages in the Netherlands over a standard-essential patent. Samsung lost its three offensive German cases (all of them over 3G-essential patents), lost bids for iPhone 4S preliminary injunctions in France and Italy, and lost all of its offensive claims at the U.S. trial."

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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