Samsung looks set to no longer supply LCD panels for Apple’s portable devices. Perhaps predictably it’s unclear which side is initiating the break-up.
A “senior Samsung source” told the Korea Times of the split, saying it will take effect from next year. It seems Apple has been cutting back on using Samsung screens, with the issue coming to a head with Samsung not playing any part in the iPad mini, a device expected to be announced imminently.
It’s a bit of a “he said, she said” situation, but it appears Apple was planning to gradually phase Samsung out while it set up a supplier, with Samsung getting wind of this and pulling the plug completely at relatively short notice. It seems to think it can make up for the lost business through its own devices and by supplying Amazon for gadgets such as the Kindle Fire tablets.
Both sides will no doubt claim this is a purely business decision, though it seems clear there would be problems with the relationship giving the ongoing patent wars. (Heck, Apple could have been really cheeky and asked for a few dozen million screens as a way to pay off Samsung’s humongous damages bill in the recent California case.)
Speaking of the patent battle, its showing no signs of ending its global journey. A British judge has refused Apple permission to appeal against his previous refusal to ban the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10. Robin Jacob, who’d previously noted the Tab wasn’t as “cool” as the iPad, pointed out several differences in the design. He also stressed that there’s a legal threshold that lies somewhere between simply copying a design and unlawfully infringing upon it. Meanwhile two rulings in Japan have cleared Apple of any infringement of Samsung’s technologies for airplane mode or app downloads.
Of course, both sides being told to stop being silly and go away hasn’t put the lawyers coming up with new ideas for alleged violations. Samsung has brought a new case against Apple in Germany, this time claiming it stole the idea of letting cellphone users select an icon to produce an emoticon rather than having to remember a particular combination of punctuation.
As for the main event of the California case, Apple has now responded to some of Samsung’s objections to the trial and verdict. It’s rejected Samsung’s claim that jury foreman Velgin Hogan was biased against Samsung because it was a part-owner of Seagate, with whom he’d previously had personal courtroom clashes. Apple says that not only was Hogan’s conduct in the trial above reproach, but if there was a question of bias Samsung should have brought it up at the time.