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Intellectual property rights central to Apple-Samsung legal duel

As many Connecticut residents are likely aware, tech giants Apple and Samsung are locked in a patent dispute regarding the smart phones each company produces. Apple claims that Samsung copied its talismanic iPhone -- both in visual appearance and functionality -- when it released its "Galaxy" line of tablets and cell phones. Samsung has rejected such copyright infringement claims and countersued Apple, claiming that some of their cell phone hardware is being mimicked in current iPhones.

It is a massive lawsuit (Apple is requesting $2.5 billion for Samsung's alleged violations) that may not directly or financially translate to small business owners in Connecticut; but the matter of intellectual property is a sensitive one for any business owner, especially in this era of online piracy and sharing.

Sometimes a business owner's ideas, or intellectual property, are the greatest asset they possess. For restaurant owners, it could be a delicious recipe. For technology companies, it could be a newly-developed computer chip. No matter the case, when your intellectual property is stolen -- either by a former employee or a competitor -- and improperly copied, it hurts your business.

There are legal means to protect your creative idea: a business law attorney can advise you on how to dispute copyright or patent violations, or other infringements on your intellectual property. They can also help you file for a patent, if you have never gone through the process.

Specific to the Apple-Samsung dispute, there are likely design and functionality patents that Apple filed many years ago before they released the iPhone in 2007. These patents govern how the device looks (physical appearance, design details, colors, etc.) and how the device works (technical aspects, functional features, etc.). But there are many other types of patents that can cover a wide array of products, trade secrets and ideas.

Source: Associated Press, "Apple claims Samsung copied iPhone technology," Paul Elias, Aug. 1, 2012

  • Disputing intellectual property is not always a straightforward process, but our firm is well-versed in such matters. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Connecticut intellectual property page.

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