Apple and Samsung are heading back into the Northern District of California courtroom of Judge Lucy Koh Monday for another round in their ongoing patent smackdown in the center of Silicon Valley.
The world's two largest smartphone makers will begin jury selection in a fresh case brought by Apple over accusations that Samsung has copied some of its key design concepts for use in some of the Korean firm's best-selling phones, such as the Galaxy S3. Samsung, in turn, says Apple has violated two patents it holds: one on a photo-gallery feature, and one that deals with video compression.
You can be forgiven for thinking this all sounds familiar. We've been...well, if not exactly here, then somewhere very near it, before.
In 2012, a jury ruled that Samsung had violated some of Apple's patents for smartphone design, originally awarding the Cupertino, Calif. company damages of over $1 billion -- a figure that dropped to just below $900 million when a new jury was asked to recalculate some of those fees.
Still, Apple arguably comes into this second lawsuit with some wind at its back. And it's not only because the firm has won a very similar case in the same court and before the same judge in the past. The Cupertino firm is also on good footing because Koh has already ruled that Samsung has violated at least one Apple patent at issue in the case, which covers the technology behind auto-correcting text typed into a phone. Apple is also set to argue that Samsung didn't even own the patents it's bringing in this case until after the first case had been filed.
The five patents in Apple's case cover core features such as the voice-controlled assistant Siri, its devices' abilities to sync data in the background, and its "slide-to-unlock" feature. That focus could also give Apple a clearer shot at striking at who is arguably its real foe in all of this patent war business: Google.
It's certainly no secret that Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs considered Google's Android mobile operating system to be a complete rip-off of Apple's own iOS -- a conviction that drove Jobs to say he was willing to wage "thermonuclear war" on Google for launching what he believed was a "stolen product."
And while Apple has contented itself by suing smartphone makers who use the Android operating system, Google has never been too far away from the fray. In this new trial, as the Mercury News reported, several Google executives are being called to testify to help Samsung answer Apple's claims of infringement.
What's at stake here? Apple is asking for Samsung to pay between $33 and $40 per device for violating the five patents, following instructions to set damages as it would have in August 2011 -- after it had already filed a lawsuit against Samsung for infringement, and was hardly likely to be charitable. That's a significant amount of around $2 billion in total. In other words, while Apple hasn't been successful in getting any key Samsung phones blocked from the U.S. market due to a trial verdict, it is still playing hardball.
Samsung, meanwhile, is asking for up to $400 million in damages for the alleged violation of its patents, and could ask for a sales ban on Apple products if they're found to infringe.
For those who may hope that this is last we'll hear of this patent battle, however, that's simply not going to happen. Samsung has already appealed the decision of the first trial -- indicating that the companies, at least, don't seem to be feeling any trial fatigue.
Apple and Samsung declined to comment on the trial. Arguments in the case are expected to start on Tuesday. It is expected to last into May.