On Friday, a nine-person California jury awarded Apple $1,051,855,000 in damages and ruled that South Korean electronics company Samsung had infringed six of the seven patents for Apple mobile devices. Apple had actually asked for $2.75 billion in damages; Samsung had sought $421 million in a countersuit but received nothing.
Apple, now the most valuable company in the US, saw its stock rise to $675.11, its highest ever after the verdict.
Money, Money and More Money
Apple does not exactly need another million dollars and it won’t be receiving the award anytime soon as Samsung is planning to appeal. The case will now be reviewed on the federal circuit, CNET points out, and both sides will be back in court on September 20 when Apple will seek to ban the sale of Samsung smartphones and tablets that infringe on patents.
The decision also means that Samsung and other Android developers may have to start paying extra royalties to Apple, which could mean higher costs for consumers, says CNET.
Lawsuits Over Patents and Intellectual Property Are Far From Over
The trial lasted three weeks and the jury deliberated for three days after working their way through a 20-page document requiring them to decide which company had infringed on whose patents, CNET says:
For Apple, information revealed during the trial included prototypes of iPhone and iPaddesigns that never saw the light of day, as well as highly detailed financial data that went far beyond what the company typically makes public. There were also e-mails between executives, one of which included mention of high interest in a smaller version of the iPad.
For Samsung, it was a series of damning internal documents, many of which showed that the company looked to Apple’s devices for cues when designing its software icons and general features. One such internal report contained numerous side-by-side slides in which the company put a prerelease version of its initial Galaxy smartphone next to the iPhone and offered suggestions on how to make the Galaxy more similar to the Apple device.
Some are saying that this high-profile intellectual property trial has changed nothing and that what’s really going on is that tech companies are duking it out in the courts “to figure out the terms of cooperation—whose intellectual property is worth what.”
As Businessweek points out, Samsung is one of Apple’s main suppliers.
The Value of Good Design
Others including ZDNet say that this particular trial’s outcome has “far-reaching ramifications for the Android smartphone world.” The jury found that Samsung had “willfully copied Apple’s products” and specifically design and user interface features, such as the iPhone’s “bounce-back feature.” Legal experts had actually thought Apple would have difficulty winning infringement charges about its design patents, the New York Times notes. But the jury ruled in Apple’s favor in three out of four design patents (the fourth being for a tablet shaped as a rectangle with round corners).
The value of design in today’s tech world was made clear by the trial. While we can expect to hear Samsung charging that the judgment squashes innovation, CNET contends that
…the court decision will force Samsung — as well as all other smartphone and tablet computer manufacturers — to think harder and better about design. After all, Apple’s Jony Ive is not the only resident design genius in techdom. If he is, then the technology industry ought to make it official and just concede the game to Apple.
Apple has long been noted for, indeed, the design of its products and has won praise for their aesthetic appeal and functionality. I’ve used Apple products for years but only was made fully aware of the difference good design can make when my autistic teenage son – who had struggled unsuccessfully for years to use a computer mouse, type on a keyboard and see the blinking cursor on the screen – knew how to use an iPad from the moment he picked it up.
It’s All Really About Apple vs. Google
Apple is also battling other mobile-device manufacturers in about three dozen legal and regulatory actions filed in ten different countries. It is charging Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility, Microsoft and HTC with patent infringement.
But the Samsung lawsuit is being seen as a skirmish with an ally of Apple’s main (and true) rival, Google: Among the companies that use Google’s Android operating system, Samsung is the leader. Businessweek indeed observes that “in the last 18 months of his life, [Steve] Jobs, who died on Oct. 5 at age 56, was obsessed with crushing Android.” Jobs considered Android a “stolen product” that he was “willing to go to thermonuclear war” over.
Apple CEO Tim Cook celebrated a most successful one-year anniversary on the job last week. With Apple’s victory over Samsung and its current status as “the most valuable company on the face of the planet — ever” (as the San Jose Mercury News puts it), it’s looking as if the patent wars could be part of a long campaign. But will consumers benefit?
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