Apple v. Samsung timeline: The guide to what's happening

Summary:Legal jargon aside, what is actually going on in the high-profile Apple v. Samsung case, and how did it start? Let's take a look at the timeline.

[Updated August 22, 2012]

The high-profile battle between technology giants Apple and Samsung has managed to cross not only country borders, but probably the comprehension of many trying to follow the trial, which is taking place in San Jose, Calif.

Samsung vs pple

So, without further ado and in bite-size portions, here is a rundown of the trial's events thus far, all the way from the beginning:

Key Facts

  • In the original lawsuit filed by Apple against Samsung in April 2011, the former stated that the South-Korean firm had ripped off the design and technology of Apple products.
  • The actual terms used? Apple alleges that Samsung "slavishly" copied its designs.
  • In response, Samsung counter-sued, saying that Apple had infringed a number of patents to do with 3G.
  • Hitting the ball back, Apple then pushed on, stating Samsung copied the "look and feel" of the Apple iOS range of devices, namely the Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets.
  • The lawsuit has spread to over 30 courts across four continents, and after negotiations failed, landed in front of a judge for the true showdown in July 2012.
  • Apple is seeking $2.5 billion in damages, and Samsung is also seeking financial restitution.

The Timeline

July 2011:

Apple sued Samsung for patent infringement, namely through products including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung then counter-sued over 3G patents, which are owned by the firm. Samsung says that the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPad 2 infringe these patents.

August 2011:

Samsung's Galaxy 10.1 tablet was put on hold in Australia after an intellectual property and trade practises hearing. Apple Australia acquired the U.S. version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, studied it, filed a lawsuit, and claimed intellectual property right infringement based on the design of the iPad.

The case Apple bought against Samsung was speedy -- and effective

The two smartphone and tablet giants then struck a deal. Samsung agreed to restrict the sales of its Galaxy Tab tablet in Australia and would also give Apple sample devices and source code of devices that apparent crossed the line for study -- and approval.

However, it did not end there. Apple then won a victory in a German court, securing a preliminary (i.e. temporary) injunction against the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 throughout the European Union, with the exception of the Netherlands. This took immediate effect in Germany

Was that it? Not at all. In the same breath, researchers accused Apple of modifying images of Samsung's tablet, which were then presented to the Düsseldorf court who granted the original injunction. Afterwards, the judge claimed he also handled the tablets and did not rely purely on the supplied images.

In addition, Samsung filed an emergency complaint that the German court overstepped the mark in trying to impose a ban on sales in other EU countries. As a result, the ruling was lifted across the EU -- except for in Germany.

Basically, Apple believed that the 10.1-inch variant -- the American type -- of the Galaxy Tab looked far too similar to the iPad, and tried to prevent its sale. Not only this, but Apple alleged that Samsung had breached several of its patents, including "slide to unlock" and "edge-bump" functions. 

September 2011:

The new Galaxy Tab 7.7 was next to fall afoul of the German courts, being banned by a court injunction, and was unable to be showcased at one of the world's largest technology shows in Berlin, the IFA electronics show

Meanwhile, in Australia, Samsung set about counter-suing Apple after delaying the Galaxy Tab 10.1 launch down under. The claim was filed with the Federal Court of Australia in New South Wales, and stated that Apple infringed seven Australian patents related to 3G networking on its third- and fourth-generation iPhones and iPad 2 devices.

So far: Apple says Samsung's tablet infringes design patents, and Samsung says that iPhones and iPads infringe 3G patents. 

Samsung's move seemed to go against its original agreement to grant Apple samples of the tablet for study, and to restrict sales. In reprisal, the firm also gathered its army to sue Apple in order to prevent the iPhone 5 making its way to South Korea, taking its case to court on 16 September.

The seven patents that Apple allegedly infringed upon through its iDevices were for methods of data transmission, decoding, power management and mobile data management. Not only this, but Samsung demanded that Apple drop its complaint in Australian court.

These patents are what is known as 'standards-essential patents' -- in other words, 3G will not work without the technology. Samsung is required therefore to license them under reasonable, non-discriminatory and fair measures -- what are known as FRAND terms.

However, if Samsung is required to license the patents that Apple allegedly infringed, what happened to the licensing? Apple said that the terms were "not reasonable" and differed from other third-party vendors .

Up to this moment in our timeline, Apple also filed other similar claims in countries including Japan, the UK and France. 

October 2011:

The Australian ban on the Galaxy Tab continues, and the two sides continue to squabble. Reports stated that the court sided with Apple on two of the patents Samsung allegedly infringed. 

See also: All of Apple's patent claims against Samsung in one chart

Next: Victory for Samsung?


Topics: Apple, Samsung


Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.