Samsung has been making an incredible living off of Apple’s intellectual property and Apple hasn’t been able to do a damn thing about it. The latest “fuck you” issued by this country’s court system got Apple to drop its pursuit of an injunction against Samsung’s soon-to-be-released Galaxy S III. For those unfamiliar, Apple is trying to get its day in court against Samsung in venues across the world. In the United States, the place where Apple is incorporated and continues to pump billions of dollars into an otherwise flaccid economy, Apple has yet to see the inside of a courtroom even though it filed its first suit against the Korean manufacturer over a year ago. In the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, the venue where Apple will likely see its first actual trial, presiding Judge Lucy H. Koh has been holding Apple’s July 30th court date hostage, first to get them to winnow the number of claims it is making against Samsung and most recently to drop its attempt to get a temporary restraining order against Samsung’s S III. Her favorite tactic seems to involve pointing to her calendar, complaining about how busy she is and threatening to move Apple’s quest for vindication even further back into the year. Koh has been quoted as saying “I cannot be an Apple v. Samsung judge,”, which strikes me as strange. If you’re a District Court judge and you have any aspirations beyond that seat, don’t you want to be the Apple v. Samsung judge? Isn’t this an opportunity to launch yourself into the judicial stratosphere? But that ship has sailed and Apple is stuck with a very busy judge that doesn’t have time to indulge the company’s petty whims – like preventing devices that have been shipping for over a year from getting into consumers’ hands based largely on Apple’s patented innovations. The patent system is designed to protect just about anything that can be described, innovation notwithstanding (as evidenced by bottom-feeders like Lodsys). This cesspool of trolling relies on a court system for its teeth – a system that feels increasingly like it can’t be bothered to sort it out. The “Thermonuclear option” has failed Apple, especially in this country. It’s time for Tim Cook and Apple to take matters into their own hands.
It’s time to cut Samsung out of the supply chain – for good.
I’m not blind to the realities of Apple’s codependence here. Samsung’s components currently factor largely into many Apple devices, particularly portable ones like the iPhone and iPad. According to one (somewhat dubious) source, it is estimated that Apple will spend $11 billion with Samsung in 2012 securing components for, among other things, NAND flash memory, mobile processors, and displays. To give you a sense of what Apple means to Samsung’s bottom line, its total sales in the first quarter of 2012 were $4.05 billion (45.27 trillion won). If Apple wants to make a meaningful statement about the value of its intellectual property, yanking Samsung’s lucrative Apple contracts would be a devastatingly effective way to do so.
The CEO of Apple made a name for himself by being the master of the supply chain. Being able to source components from manufacturers competitively is one of Apple’s greatest strengths. If you look at the resources Apple is committing to litigation, all the company has to show for it is the knowledge that patents will not protect its innovations. Apple prides itself on being an independent provider of superior user experiences. It didn’t achieve this by relying on manufacturers to botch the execution of their software. It did it by bringing all of the things required to make great technology under its control. Samsung is a blight on Apple’s vertically-integrated experience. As good as they may be as a supplier, their knocking-off of Apple’s ideas is a daily slap in the face. When Google stole from Apple to create Android, that betrayal led to an eviction of their presence from Apple’s kit, as evidenced by the latest WWDC keynote announcements. Samsung has been making an even more egregious mockery of its relationship for the last 2 years. It’s time to cut out the cancer in your supply chain, Tim.
Samsung has to go.