Watch Out Samsung Retailers! We Are Apple, Hear Us Roar
Not only has Apple obtained a preliminary injunction on the sale of the Galaxy 10.1, but it has sent cease and desist letters to retailers that are selling tablets that they have already purchased. It is one thing to enforce the injunction against Samsung itself, but it is another to unfairly enforce an injunction to hurt the market and the customer.
Apple has put on a full-court press against the sale of the Galaxy 10.1 tablet in the United States. Not only has Apple obtained a preliminary injunction on the sale of the Galaxy 10.1, but it has sent cease and desist letters to retailers that are selling tablets that they have already purchased. While Apple certainly has a strong argument that the injunction extends to retailers that currently have the Galaxy 10.1, there is widespread sentiment that it is going way too far. It is one thing to enforce the injunction against Samsung itself, but it is another to unfairly enforce an injunction to hurt the market and the customer.
The preliminary injunction that Apple obtained against the sale of the Galaxy 10.1 states that Samsung and “its officers, directors, partners, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, subsidiaries, and those acting in concert with any of them,” are forbidden from selling the Galaxy 10.1 in the United States. The important consideration here is whether Apple is allowed to prohibit third-parties that are not involved in the lawsuit from selling a product that they already have in stock. Normally, the conduct of those that are not directly involved in litigation do not have to abide by an injunction. Since the retailers are separate entities from Samsung, an injunction would have no effect on their business. Apple, however, argues that the last clause (“those acting in concert with any of them”) allows it to enforce the injunction against individual retailers because the retailers work to promote and sell the product on behalf of Samsung. Thus, this would mean that they are acting in concert with Samsung, and fall within the limits set forth in the injunction.
Unfortunately, this is a lose-lose situation for the consumer. First, if Apple’s interpretation of the injunction is correct, it will be allowed to force a product off of shelves that the retailer has already purchased. The retailer then has a stock-pile of expensive products that it cannot sell. Moreover, once the case goes to trial and is finally resolved, the Galaxy 10.1 could be obsolete and the retailers will have lost out on that revenue. Plus, they would be stuck with the outdated tablets. The retailer must make up the revenue somehow, and would likely lead to higher prices somewhere down the line. Second, if Apple is incorrect about the interpretation, it is still going to take time for the court to make a ruling. In the meantime, Apple is able to bully retailers into submission. Again, this forces the retailer to lose valuable sales while the legal battle continues, and it gives the consumer one less choice when purchasing a tablet.
All of this back-and-forth does nothing but cause more friction between the two companies, and forces the idea of a settlement further away. The best case scenario for the consumer is to have the two companies work out a way to put their differences behind them and settle this dispute out-of-court. This would allow the companies to focus solely on creating new and innovative products for the consumer to enjoy, rather than inhibiting competition through legal maneuvering. Unfortunately, these two companies have again lost sight of who matters the most – the customer.