Justice may be blind, but to compensate, she never sleeps. And so while it may seem as though it were just the other day that we were assembling the latest news in the realm of law, it was in fact five days ago. Still, a lot’s happened in the intervening time—enough to warrant (get it?) the latest edition of our irregular legal feature, Under the Gavel.
Samsung down under
The patent war between Apple and Samsung moves to the Antipodean theater, as Bloomberg reports that the Korea-based company has agreed not to sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Australia until the dispute with Apple is resolved. That deal was reportedly struck by lawyers from the two companies during a break from a hearing on the matter.
Sounds straightforward enough, until you add in the fact that Samsung says the deal covered only the the U.S. version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (pictured), which is the target of Apple’s claims. Instead, a different version of the tablet will be put on sale in Australia. (One does have to wonder how different a product marketed under the same exact name really could be, but I guess we’ll find out.)
In a statement to several news outlets, Samsung says it will release the Australian version of the tablet “in the near future”; Bloomberg says that the company also agreed to provide Apple with three samples of the product to evaluate at least a week before the device is scheduled to launch. If Apple should lose the patent case, the company’s agreed to pay Samsung unspecified damages.
A hearing on the matter has been scheduled by an Australian federal judge for August 29. Meanwhile, Apple is reportedly trying to block sale of Samsung’s tablet in other countries as well, though it’s not known exactly which ones.
Now if only I could convince the Macworld brass that we need a roving legal reporter…
Making a mountain out of an anthill
The latest development in patent litigation comes from a surprising source: It’s not Lodsys, or even Apple, but a coalition of developers, led by outspoken programmer Mike Lee.
Lee has enlisted Texas attorney Michael McCoy to lead the fight, and says that a plan for action is being drawn up and will probably start in earnest next week.
Given the prevailing feelings among many independent developers—even those who haven’t been sued—an initiative like this might at least bolster morale. It’s certainly a worthy enough cause, though just how effective such a coalition will be when it runs up against the brick walls of the entrenched patent system and Washington politics remains to be seen.
Remember Kim Hyung-Suk, the South Korean citizen who got a payout from Apple over the location-tracking case? Looks like he might just be the tip of the iceberg: A Korean law firm—of which Kim is apparently an attorney—is now seeking a 1 million won payout for each of the 27,802 members of the class action suit, bringing the total to around 27 billion won ($25.5 million). It’s like Where’s Waldo? except, you know, if Waldo sued you every time you found him.
Having been ordered to pay $8 million to intellectual property firm Personal Audio, Apple is now protected from a subsequent lawsuit by the Texas-based company, thanks to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Ron Clark. Clark said that Apple’s $8 million sum gives it a “fully paid up license that covers all past and future use” of Personal Audio’s technology. Hey, guys, like the man said—take the money and run.