Apple Facing Multi-Front Legal Battle

Posted by · December 6, 2011 4:24 pm

It all started late last week. Coming off a semi-victory in the latest installment of its Australian patent battle with Samsung, Apple thought it sensible to try its luck in the United States. Seeking a preliminary injunction from a U.S. District Court, Apple hoped Judge Lucy Koh would bar Samsung from selling several of its Galaxy tablets and smartphones in the US.

Citing concerns over patent and trademark infringements, Apple sought to prevent Samsung from causing what the company alleged to be permanent damage.

Unfortunately for Apple, however, Judge Koh did not share their concern.

“It is not clear that an injunction on Samsung’s accused devices would prevent Apple from being irreparably harmed,” she said. And yet, the judge did acknowledge that Samsung may be at least somewhat in the wrong, agreeing that Apple will likely succeed in its case.

Reacting to the ruling, a Samsung statement commented, “We are confident that we can demonstrate the distinctiveness of Samsung’s mobile devices when the case goes to trial next year.”

On another front, Apple is also attempting to dispel legal accusations. Taking its place alongside Motorola, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, Apple is one of the latest companies to be sued over the still-evolving Carrier IQ scandal. Apple and company are facing a class-action suit over privacy concerns.

The plaintiffs argue that these companies have violated federal law, specifically the Federal Wiretap Act, Stored Communications Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Alleging that the use of Carrier IQ constitutes “installing software on cell phones that could track the users’ information in violation of federal law,” the group is seeking both monetary damages and a permanent order against any future action of that nature.

Apple is implicated in this suit because of its pre-installation of Carrier IQ software on its cell phones.

Meanwhile, Carrier IQ maintains that its service is for the sole purpose of collecting diagnostic information to improve service on the various networks. However, the lawsuit suggests that, despite such allegedly noble intentions, the software is also capable of collecting location, application use, browsing, video viewing, texting, and keystroke information.

Finally, across the pond, the European Commission has officially commenced an antitrust investigation against Apple and several book publishers. The commission is responding to allegations that Apple might be colluding with the likes of Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster and others to limit competition in the e-book market through price fixing. This investigation comes not long after allegations that Apple’s iBooks “agency model” was used as a means of price hikes.

“The Commission has concerns, that these practices may breach EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices,” announced the agency. According to reports, the probe by the European Commission is part of an ongoing crackdown on anticompetitive business practices in the e-book sector.

Conveniently excluded from the investigation, however, were big names including Amazon, Google, and Random House, all of which, notes a GigaOM report, are “major players” in this area as well.