The conflict between two of the most powerful technology companies in the world has been escalating for several years, underscoring the struggle to survive in the competitive smartphone and tablet markets. In this legal battle, billions of dollars are at stake along with bragging rights for innovations that have transformed the way we communicate and get information.

This trial starting will mark the latest round in a series of lawsuits between the firms. In the upcoming case, Apple is accusing Samsung of infringing on five patents on newer devices, including Galaxy smartphones and tablets, TIME Magazine reported. In a counterclaim, Samsung says Apple stole two of its ideas to use on iPhones and iPads.

Apple is demanding about $2 billion in damages, and asking that Samsung be ordered to pay a $40 licensing fee for each phone.  For Apple, it isn’t about money, it’s about principle. Apple is nearing $200 billion in annual revenue and sitting on tens of billions in cash, according to ABC News. So, Apple doesn’t need $2 billion. The company wants validation that its engineers were responsible for inventing the modern smartphone.

Steve Jobs was convinced that Google copied most of the Android operating system from the iPhone, which caused Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to be dismissed from Apple’s board of directors five years ago. Jobs, in fact, vowed to wage “thermonuclear war” against those whom he felt had ripped off the iPhone, and the multibillion-dollar lawsuits against Samsung and other Android hardware makers are the legacy of Jobs’ conviction.

“Without the ability to enforce its intellectual property rights, such as those relating to mobile device technology at issue in this action, Samsung would not be able to sustain the extensive commitment to research and development that has enabled it to lead the way into numerous improvements across a broad range of technologies, including the mobile device technologies at issue in this action,” Samsung said.

The patents involved in the case relate to the iPhone’s search feature, as well as technology that enables links inside text messages, and syncs calendar, email and address book data. Another patent involves the iPhone’s predictive text feature, which suggests text after the user has entered a few characters. And, the most controversial patent in the case applies to the slide-to-unlock feature, which has become familiar for millions of smartphone users.

Over the last decade, major tech giants including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung have engaged in patent litigation in multiple jurisdictions around the world. Notre Dame Law Professor Mark McKenna told the Associated Press, “There’s a widespread suspicion that lots of the kinds of software patents at issue are written in ways that cover more ground than what Apple or any other tech firm actually invented.”


For more news on patent litigation, check out these articles:

Go ask Alice: Supreme Court to hear arguments on software patents

Everything you want to know about Apple vs. Samsung patent trial

Asian regulator delays Microsoft acquisition of Nokia devices unit

Closing the loop of subject matter conflicts of interest in patent prosecution