May 30, 2011, 12:02 PM — Apple, which is as famous within the IT universe for its paranoia and culture of secrecy, may be forced to show Samsung its next-generation version of its iPad and iPhone, after getting a court to order Samsung to show its next-generation smartphones as evidence in a patent dispute.
Apple -- which is suing Samsung for "slavishly" copying the iPhone and iPad, infringing on 10 patents and two trademarks in the process -- got a U.S. Federal Court to rule earlier this month that Samsung had to show Apple what it was working on to prove Samsung wasn't knocking off Apple's designs.
Samsung countersued Apple in Germany, Japan and Korea, charging Apple was infringing on five patents on wireless-networking technology, then asked the same federal court judge to force Apple to show its goods as well.
Samsung's motion said Apple had already agreed the big reveal should be reciprocal, and should happen by June 17.
U.S. Federal Court Judge Lucy Koh hasn't ruled on Samsung's motion, but was pretty clear about her intentions, according to Computerworld's quote from an earlier hearing:
"At the close of the hearing the Court stated: 'And let me just say to counsel for Apple, I'm not going to be happy if you're not [sic] going to say what's good for the goose is not good for the gander. Okay?'" the motion read.
The suit and counter-suit themselves aren't that big a deal, as technology businesses go. Tech companies have to copy each others' new features; there is only a limited number of ways to accomplish anything technical; IT-business patents are written as broadly as possible to give the lawyers plenty of room for interpretation when they sue someone else.
As the devices get smaller, the functions become more similar and the competition increases as more and more manufacturers try to tap the scalding-hot tablet and smartphone market, the interactions become more incestuous and overlap more likely.
Microsoft, for example, is making five times as much from the number of Android devices other people sell than it is from its own Windows Phone, according to Mobiledia. HTC settled a patent dispute with Microsoft in April, 2010 by agreeing to pay $5 to Microsoft for each Android HTC sold.
After HTC settled an intellectual-property dispute with Microsoft in April 2010, HTC agreed to pay Microsoft $5 for every Android device HTC sells.