Left Eye: Dateline Suwon, South Korea.
Apple Inc.’s COO, Tim Cook, is visiting Samsung Electronics to investigate new technologies that might benefit future generations of Apple products. "We are Samsung's largest customer, and Samsung is a very valued component supplier to us. I expect a strong relationship will continue," Cook said. Samsung spokespersons (through press releases), in turn, are praising the Android platform. (Note to the lay press: It’s not difficult to claim “fastest growing” when your unit of measurement is percentages and you have small share to begin with.)
Right Eye: Dateline U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose).
Apple requests AND IS GRANTED the ability to see pre-production, prototype Samsung smartphones to ensure they are not copying Apple designs; Samsung, in what must have been the most predictable move in the litigation thus far, has now asked for a school yard quid pro quo: I’ll show you mine; you show me yours.
The fact that only outside counsel actually get to look under the covers to see if there are confusing similarities provides little comfort. Though there are precedents for these actions, in a world where trade secrets protections are critical to tech growth and survival, court-induced “look-sees” tread dangerously close to upsetting a delicate balance.
I am sure Operations knows well what Legal is doing, and suing a major if not crucial element of your supply chain must make fundamental business sense, but what is the end game here? Analysts feel Apple will be made to comply with the Samsung request, and there is already talk that the next generation of iPads and iPhones will be delayed as a result.
Side note: One of the Samsung releases talked about the importance of LTE technology in tomorrow’s phones. Nortel’s patent auction contains key LTE patents (Google still seems to be the main player.) As long as we are in Bizarro World, maybe Apple and Samsung should hold hands and bid on the Nortel package!