Who's suing who in the IT industry


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There's a lot of suing going on in the IT industry right now

Here's a brief list of who's suing who, with the major cases explored further within our slideshow:

Apple is suing or being sued by: Samsung, Nokia, Amazon and Microsoft, with T-Mobile and Verizon serving injunctions against one of Apple's suits.

Microsoft is suing or being sued by: Salesforce.com, Motorola, RIM and HTC.

Oracle is suing or being sued by: SAP, HP and Google.

Google is suing or being sued by: eBay and Oracle.

Amazon is suing or being sued by: VIA.

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Apple vs. Samsung

In April 2011 Apple launched a lawsuit against Samsung for "slavishly copying" the iPad in design, technology and interfaces in a dispute related to the Samsung Galaxy series of tablets and smartphones. Apple won a preliminary injunction blocking Samsung from selling their Galaxy products in all EU countries except The Netherlands, where a separate lawsuit is underway.

But at the district court in The Hague, Apple were accused of filing inaccurate evidence, manipulating images to show the Samsung and Apple devices to look more similar than they really were.

When Apple countered it was the similarities in appearance rather than the size specifically that was the issue, Samsung then claimed that iPad-like tablets had long been established as "prior art" thanks to a scene in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, thus invalidating at least one of Apple's patents.

Then at the IFA consumer tech show in Germany Samsung were forced to remove images of the Galaxy products due to a court order banning the devices in Germany.

Most recently, Apple have brought the case against the Korean manufacturer to the UK.

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Microsoft vs. Motorola

In October 2010 Microsoft sued Motorola for selling Android-based phones that allegedly infringed upon Microsoft patents. Motorola's mobile phone subsidiary then filed a lawsuit against Microsoft alleging the world's largest software maker had infringed 16 of its patents in PC, mobile and server software, as well as Xbox products.

The lawsuit came just a day after Microsoft filed its second lawsuit against Motorola over licensing terms for technology Microsoft uses in its Xbox game machines. Then in August this year Microsoft sued Motorola to prevent the sale of Motorola mobiles in the USA.

The move followed Google's £7.7bn purchase of Motorola Mobility, which some commentators saw as a move by Google to defend Android in patent disputes. Meanwhile, Microsoft had already successfully sued HTC in April 2010 over its use of the Google Android OS, the result of which means Microsoft pockets $5 for every HTC Android phone sold.

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Oracle vs. Google

In August 2010 Oracle filed a patent-and-copyright infringement suit against Google over the use of its Java programming language in Android. In the ensuing case in April this year Judge William Alsup was given Java lessons from lawyers.

Earlier Google had ask for re-examination of Java patents in February leading to Judge William Alsup saying whole process could take years.

In July this year Oracle were forced to lower damages from initial top end of $6.1 billion, to a starting point of $100 milllion, and a month later Google failed in its bid to block Oracle presenting an email in court which showed one of its engineers talking about getting a licence to use Java. Engineer Tim Lindholm explained to Andy Rubin, who runs Android division: "We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java."

With the case set for 31 October, the judge ordered a mediation at which "top executive officers on both sides be in attendance for one or two complete days" in effort to avoid the litigation battle. However, two days of talks between Larrys Page and Ellison didn't work out but executives from both sides agreed to meet for a third settlement attempt ahead of the October 31 hearing, although Judge Alsup admitted the case may be put back due to another criminal case being heard in the same court.

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SAP vs. Oracle

In March 2007 Oracle took its bitter rivalry with business applications vendor SAP to another level, filing legal action against SAP alleging violations of US fraud legislation, unfair competition and civil conspiracy. "This case is about corporate theft on a grand scale," the lawsuit contended. Oracle alleged it discovered that SAP is "engaged in systematic, illegal access" to Oracle's computerised customer support systems.

Oracle filed the lawsuit against SAP, its SAP America division and its TomorrowNow subsidiary, which provided third-party maintenance and support in large part for Oracle applications drawn from its PeopleSoft, Siebel and JD Edwards product families. Part of Oracle's suit related to the role it said TomorrowNow played as part of SAP's Safe Passage programme designed to move Oracle users over to SAP applications, while Oracle also filed the suit against 50 unnamed individuals that it claimed were employees of SAP and whose identities the vendor hoped to determine during the course of the lawsuit.

In November 2010 a jury awarded Oracle $1.3 billion in damages, which Oracle said was "the largest amount ever awarded for software piracy."

But last month a judge overturned the decision, granting SAP's motion to throw out the award, finding it "grossly excessive." District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, in Oakland, Californa, ruled that SAP would deserve a new trial on damages, were Oracle to reject her decision to lower the award to $272 million.

In the end, SAP agreed to pay just over $20 million (£12.7 million) to settle the criminal case against TomorrowNow.

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