Why Samsung took the Apple patent battle international

We knew Samsung would file a patent countersuit against Apple, but why did Samsung do so in three countries outside the US?

It is no surprise that Samsung retaliated against Apple's claims of patent infringement with some patent accusations of its own, but the fact that Samsung chose to file lawsuits internationally against Apple in three different countries seems a bit perplexing. While it may seem like a random move on the part of Samsung to include the world in the patent silliness, there is a method to the madness.

Why wouldn't Samsung simply countersue Apple in the US District Court of Northern California where Apple filed its lawsuit against Samsung in the first place? Did Samsung just throw some darts at a map on the wall in order to make its litigation an equal opportunity for the whole world, or is there perhaps some carefully considered logic to Samsung's choice of venues?

I asked Florian Mueller, a technology patent and intellectual property expert who closely follows litigation like this and shares his insights on his blog, FOSS Patents, for his thoughts on the strategy behind Samsung's international countersuits.

Mueller explained to me that companies like Samsung choose the venue for filing a lawsuit based on a variety of criteria. The company wants to win a legal victory in the largest possible market, but also wants to ensure a high degree of certainty that it can win, and it wants to achieve victory as quickly as possible. According to Mueller, the first company that wins a legal victory or is awarded an injunction of some kind has the advantage and gains significant leverage for any ongoing settlement negotiations.

For example, consider the legal sleight of hand that Verizon had to go through in order to find a loophole that would allow it to challenge the FCC net neutrality framework in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The case was eventually tossed on a technicality, but Verizon made a concerted effort to take the legal battle to that venue because that court has an established history of being sympathetic to Internet providers and finding against the FCC.

But, expedience is probably a larger factor than empathy in Samsung's choice of nations to file patent suits against Apple. Mueller told me that patent litigation in the United States is a painfully slow process. Many companies also submit legal challenges to the International Trade Commission (ITC) because that organization typically hands down a decision within 18 months.

However, recent cases before the ITC don't seem to be going the way the litigants intended, so Samsung might see the ITC as being too risky. Rather than bog things down in US federal courts, though, Samsung opted to take the battle international. Some courts may also afford a political or psychological advantage for an "underdog" competitor being oppressed by an American tech giant like Apple.

Mueller notes that an international, multi-jurisdictional legal battle can be a logistical nightmare, and consume considerable resources, but global players like Apple and Samsung have the skills, resources, and lawyers on retainer to take the challenge on.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags legalPhonessamsungconsumer electronicsintellectual propertypatentCell PhonesSamsung Electronicslegal issues

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >




Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?