Today in Apple history: Apple fires first shot in war against Samsung

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Samsung
The start of Apple's battle with Samsung.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Aug4August 4, 2010: Apple fires the first shot in its apparently never-ending war against Samsung, when a team of Apple executives visit Samsung’s HQ in Seoul, South Korea, and give a presentation with the title, “Samsung’s Use of Apple Patents in Smartphones.”

It marks the official start of a multi-billion dollar battle between the two rivals (and, weirdly, collaborators) which has continued to rage ever since.

The August 4 visit followed weeks of less formal, more polite prodding from Apple. When these were ignored, as court notes and this great Vanity Fair article spell out, the trip to Korea was to give Samsung official notice that Apple was upset about the arrival of Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone, which “borrowed” much of its look and feel from the iPhone.

Samsung
Apple’s lawyers thought this looked a bit familiar.
Photo: Samsung

The most obvious patented lifts from the iPhone included features like “rubber-banding,” which made the display bounce slightly when users tried to scroll past the bottom of a page. There was also the use of “pinch to zoom,” and more.

Things moved relatively fast after the August 2010 meeting, and today Apple and Samsung are still battling one another in court — although (much to the chagrin of some) that hasn’t stopped them working together.

Interestingly, the path things have taken were pretty much laid out in the August 4 meeting with Samsung. After Apple’s lawyers accused Samsung of stealing Apple’s work, Samsung said that it would hit back at Apple by scouring its own patent archive to find ones that Apple was infringing on. This dynamic has characterized all subsequent legal battles between the two companies.

It’s a typically Samsung strategy: using its vast resources and ability to file constant counter-lawsuits to tie up rivals, while gaining increasing shares of the market by putting out cheaper clones.

Today, Samsung continues to take potshots at Apple, although its Galaxy phones have developed more of their own identity. For example, the Galaxy S7 series offers a unique, water-resistant design with curved glass front and back that’s unlike anything else on the market. But that doesn’t mean that its success isn’t built on Apple’s hard work…

What’s your view of the Apple/Samsung battle? Have you used a Galaxy smartphone, or are you a loyal iPhone customer? Leave your thoughts below.