Generally speaking, our view is that the immediate ‘global impact’ of the ruling will be negligible. The US forms only a relatively small part of Samsung’s market – perhaps 20% at most – and it is the one place in which Apple is clearly dominant. Figures released during the California trial reveal that Apple has sold about four times as many smartphones as Samsung in the US, and about 25 times as many tablets. Yet Samsung is still the only remotely respectable competitor to Apple in the US, with all other manufacturers forming barely a blip on the charts. At the same time, Samsung leads Apple globally in Smartphone sales, implying that non-US markets are far more important to the Korean company.
The US is Apple’s home turf. It has the advantage there over all of its Asian competitors in terms of both marketing and IP strategy. A loss in a US Federal Court no doubt stings – and Samsung will fight on – but it is no more than a reflection of Samsung’s overall position relative to Apple in that market.
In Asia, however, Apple’s relative lack of experience with local cultural and legal norms is sometimes apparent. For one thing, Asian consumers are clearly less likely to be concerned whether they are buying from a US or Asian company. And perhaps Apple’s most glaring fumble in dealing with substantive differences in Asian IP laws was its settlement with Proview Technology (Shenzhen) to the tune of $60 million, to acquire the IPAD trade mark in China. Apple not only failed to ensure that it obtained the Chinese rights (for a much lower cost) in the first instance, it seemingly underestimated the strength of the rights conferred by trade mark registration in China, even when the trade mark owner has no significant ongoing business interests or reputation in the mark.
As the various legal manoeuvrings continue in the US, it will be ‘business as usual’ for Samsung in the rest of the world, even as a number of other international cases continue their slow progress.
You can view our chat with Asia Today below. Please bear in mind that Melbourne and Hong Kong are a long way apart, and that we are not usually quite so pixelated in real life!