Samsung: Apple’s Been “Freeriding,” We’re Getting Aggressive

If you were to take a good hard look at the Apple-Samsung trail of destruction (otherwise known as their world-wide patent war), you’d likely come to the conclusion that Apple is ahead by a few key points. Apple has taken down the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany, won an EU-wide (sort of) injunction on three Galaxy smartphones (though Samsung’s found a way to keep selling them), and kept the GalTab from being sold in Australia as well. Samsung has yet to get any iProduct removed from store shelves.

Obviously, this is an ongoing war and anything could happen, but as it rests now Apple has the advantage. With any win, however contained, the psychological affects of that win carry over into other court systems and countries. So Apple’s win is more than just a win in Europe, and a semi-win in Australia — it’s a sign to all the other courts that Apple may just have a point to their argument. To Samsung, this effect is lethal.

With that said, Samsung’s head of global marketing for mobile communications Lee Younghee has said that Samsung plans to take a much more aggressive stance with regard to Apple, reports the AP. After hearing this, Samsung’s somewhat tentative attitude throughout these proceedings makes much more sense. It’s well known that Samsung and Apple share a fruitful business relationship, with Samsung being a component supplier for Apple and Apple, in turn, being one of Samsung’s biggest customers.

Apple hasn’t done much to protect this relationship over the course of the battle, asserting rights in any country it can and alleging infringement at every turn. Of course, Samsung has filed plenty of its own lawsuits and appeals, but in almost every case it’s had the appearance of a retaliatory move, rather than a switch over to the offensive. In this way, Samsung has played the game slow and steady, refraining from crossing any line until the company is prepared to never return.

But that’s over. Early on in the battle, Samsung almost seemed flattered by the lawsuits. Chairman of Samsung Electronics Lee Kun-hee said that “when a nail sticks out, people try to pound it down. [Such incidents] are like a rite of passage that the company has to go through in order to continue its growth.” That was back in April, when this whole mess began. Now, things are quite different. Apple is very clearly going for the jugular, while Samsung has merely been defending itself. A strong defense (with regards to the suits Samsung initiated), but a defense nonetheless.

According to Lee Younghee, “We’ll be pursuing our rights for this in a more aggressive way from now on.” She also added that Apple has been “freeriding” on Samsung’s wireless communication technology patents. That aligns rather nicely with comments made by an unnamed Samsung executive to the Korea Times, promising to come after the iPhone 5 in Korea as soon as its debuted. That exec mentioned that the only way to avoid such litigation would be if Apple removed “mobile telecommunications functions” from the iPhone.

The way I see it, Samsung is trying to turn the tables on Apple. After playing the victim role (to an extent), Samsung will likely begin dropping bombs, hoping to secure a solid win. If that happens, Apple’s advantage dies and the possibility of a settlement becomes much more attractive to Apple the aggressor. With the way the game’s been played thus far, a settlement is actually a big win for Samsung. It may preserve the business relationship it has with Apple, while proving to the world that Apple is indeed afraid of Samsung and its increasing growth.