The sun is shining on Apple! Yesterday, Apple pulled off a big-time victory over Samsung in the most-watched patent trial of the year. Jurors awarded Apple over $1 Billion dollars in damages as they found Samsung guilty of infringing on a handful of Apple patents. This would seem to cement Apple’s longstanding claim that Samsung devices are “slavishly copies” of Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
However, there is much more to the story. Throughout the lawsuit that just concluded, both parties were clearly preparing for another audience – the appeals court. Thereby, allowing the loser, in this case Samsung, but perhaps both companies, to inevitably appeal to a higher court. And, while it is Apple that filed the initial suit in this case, Samsung also counter sued Apple for patent infringement, alleging that the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch infringe on its patents.
Just to let you know, yesterday’s U.S. court verdict came a day after a South Korean court ruled that Apple infringed on Samsung’s two standard patents for data transmission technology, while Samsung violated Apple’s one patent related to a “bounce-back” function on the touch screen.
Samsung’s public statement following yesterday’s court loss is as follows:
“It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies,” the South Korean consumer electronics giant said. “This is not the final word in this case or in battles being waged in courts and tribunals around the world, some of which have already rejected many of Apple’s claims.”
Apple’s PR chief Katie Cotton said in a statement issued yesterday:
“We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy,” and she added, “The lawsuits between Apple and Samsung were about much more than patents or money. They were about values.”
Fallout from the Apple vs. Samsung case could land directly in Google’s lap with its Android Operating System patents being the culprit, and go so far as to hit every single Android-based handset manufacturer with a nagging question: does our device cross the patent line Apple has drawn in the sand? Such considerations could seriously slow handset makers like HTC, LG and Motorola Solutions in getting their products to market, thus putting a roadblock in the previously constant flow of Android devices that fill up carrier and big-box retailer shelves. And, some hardware makers could jump ship to other platforms such as Microsoft Windows Phone, thus fragmenting the market even more. The outcome of all this certainly could give Apple a competitive advantage over other manufacturers.
In the United States, Apple and Samsung together have 55 percent of the smartphone market. If Samsung has to redesign its devices, no other company will be capable of challenging Apple for the foreseeable future. Motorola Solutions, Nokia, LG Electronics and HTC are all struggling.
The prevalence of patent cases for smartphones, tablets, and other devices will likely grow since every device is covered by hundreds of patent claims. And a patent is primarily a license to litigate, which then cause armies of lawyers and experts to fight over dry technical terms in front of befuddled jurors worldwide. .
One final note, Apple is currently fighting with Samsung in at least 19 other lawsuits pending on four continents, even though Samsung supplies a substantial part of the technology used in Apple devices. Apple and Samsung indeed have an odd relationship.