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Apple V. Samsung: What the Verdict Could Mean for Smartphone Technology

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By , dealnews contributor

The Apple v. Samsung showdown continues, though their courtroom showdown has come to a costly close. Friday's verdict in the Apple-Samsung case, as reported by the Huffington Post, came with a hefty $1.5 billion dollar price tag payable to Apple. And though Apple walked away the victor in this suit, its implications in the tech world are potentially far-reaching.

In the case against Samsung's infringement, the jury found the company guilty of "willfully infringing" on six of seven Apple patents, including three major utility patents (which control the features of a phone or tablet), and the design of the somehow-patented rectangular with rounded-edges and rounded-back iPhone. And though the court's decision has Samsung executives reeling trying to come to terms with the "absolutely the worst scenario," Apple's lawyers were unable to convince the jury that Samsung violated a patent on the physical design of the iPad.

Will Apple's lack of an iPad design patent be a game changer in the tablet market? Probably not, but as a whole the court's decision has serious implications on both smartphone and tablet innovations. Michael Rose, lead editor at The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) weighed in on that: "The overwhelming court victory for Apple puts the entire [tech] industry on notice: stop the photocopiers." He adds that the awarded billion-plus dollar damages "could grow dramatically due to the willful nature of [Samsung's] infringement."

That said, there's also the sense that the verdict deals more with the past than the present in terms of smartphone technology. As Rose points out, "Samsung and other Android OEMs have already begun moving away from the patents at issue in this case." But these Android-platform devices are still out there in the market, and with the change of legal landscape, some experts think that consumers could be turning to Samsung products given that they are now documented to be precise copies of Apple products, but of course carry a more palatable price tag. Enrique Gutierrez writes: "I'm writing this post after the FOURTH group of Starbucks patrons have made the connection that Samsung is now the same as Apple."

But it's likely that Apple will seek injunctions on sales of Samsung smartphones that use its patented technology, including the Samsung Galaxy II. So consumers may actually have fewer smartphone options to choose from going forward as many companies may be too timid to compete against Apple, and will simultaneously have to try that much harder to innovate on their own. Darren Murph, Managing Editor of Engadget, remarks that "companies all over the tech sphere are now operating on pins and needles, just praying that some obscure patent hoarding outfit doesn't serve up a lawsuit on a product it's crafting."

Michael Rose, though, thinks that the jury verdict will serve to restore some sanity to the industry because it sends a message to the imitators that pilfer from the innovators. "It will help ensure that the products that succeed are the best ones — not the best ripoffs." That sentiment is echoed by Jamie Young, Editor in Chief at AppAdvice.com: "Now that Apple has claimed a position of technical leadership over the market as a whole, we can only hope that they continue to innovate."

What are your thoughts on Apple's victory against Samsung? Will a new, highly-innovated Android device (or a Windows or Google phone) entice you? Or will you stick with a tried and true, albeit pricier, Apple product? Sound off in the comments below.

Front page photo credit: BuzzFeed



Lou Carlozo is a dealnews contributing writer. He covers personal finance for Reuters Wealth, and was most recently the managing editor of WalletPop.com, and before that a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune.

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14 comments
georgetirone
that was well put i feel the same way and thats what i was basically saying when i made the shirt comparison the point was just about every household product or shoe or bra or whatever we own looks, feels and in the end does the same thing....its just amazing that Apple thinks they are different here they are excluded from this. i believe Apple is just worried that Android has caught up and Samsung makes just as good a product as they do. Apple has lost the smartphone market because Android phones do exactly what these high priced devices do for half the price. my wife was forced to buy I-Pad (1st gen) when tablets came out because at the time the I-Pad was the only one that made a good product now Android matches what they do and competition doesn't sit well with them. Competition is supposed to bring the best out of someone not the complete opposite i guess now Samsung and any other 7 inch tablet should sue Apple because they are now making a 7 inch tab. Apple is over priced,and over hyped. 
shookaste
Someone please explain this to me!!

So Apple comes along with the fad of high tech devices that physically look like bad sci-fi props and which have UIs that look and feel like children's toys. Samsung sees this and says "Well if that's what the customer wants, that's what we'll give them only ours will last longer, actually make phone calls, be reasonably open-source and cost a lot less"

...and somehow Samsung is the bad guy????
zainghani
Dear Apple.  I love you... but I ask you: do you have Covey's "abundance mentality" when you sue Samsung?  Surely, the world is vast and ideas are plenty.  What if Google sued you for Status Bar Notifications? What if the Wright brothers patented airplanes?

Shouldn't humanity not help each other... build on each other... benefit each other?Let us grow beyond tattletaling and whining...  Lets grow up and build a better world where we overlook faults and focus on positives.
Dominik
Is it just me, or does anyone else think that the people the author quotes in the second to last paragraph (Micheal Rose and Jamie Young) are utterly wrong? 
"Michael Rose, though, thinks that the jury verdict will serve to restore some sanity to the industry because it sends a message to the imitators that pilfer from the innovators." The insanity to me is not a proliferation of copy cats in the industry (not any more so than throughout tech history) but rather the completely absurd patents that have been and are being granted. On top of that last year the America Invents act was passed. Those things to me are what's insane in the industry, not Apple wetting it's diapers and Samsung being dumb enough to not make their products look a little more different from Apple's. 
Also, what's with Jamie Young's comment about Apple having achieved Technical Leadership over the market as a whole? The reason why I feel these people are drinking Apple's coolaid, is not because they are big Apple fans. Not at all. I think Apple has amazing Engineers. The reason I feel they are drinking the coolaid is because they seem to think one way (Apples way) is the right and preferred way for everyone to do things. Steve had the same idea, but in his case it was it was more extreme, almost Hitler like if one were to exaggerate a little. Hitler had this vision of Utopia. But everything that didn't fit into that vision, had to die. Steve was kind of like that. Things had to be his way, or they should not exist.
I make no secret of being a huge Android Fan. But that's not because I think Apple makes crappy products, but just because their strategy with mobile devices does not fit what I personally want in a mobile device. That's why I chose a G1 back in the day rather than an iPhone, even though i knew how much more refined the iphone was. But I'd read about Androids philosophy and was already well aware with Apples, and that's why I chose android. Not because I was confused about which is which, but precisely for the opposite reason.
If my mom or anyone non-technical asked me what kind of smartphone or tablet to get, I'd say get an iPhone or iPad. But it's not for me. I appreciate some of the good things about it, but I can't use any i-device without feeling limited and agitated by those limitations.

Also, I'm not sure why the author refers to Apple products as tried and true.
derricklum
"You must consistently produce good products or your company will falter."

That's right, thank you, I can't wait to see what apple would be 10years from now if litigation is their policy to recapture the lost revenue but continuing innovations.

Thank you for showing that connection.

FYI, I replied this post on an iPad. Apple products are good product, but never the best. It's like Starbucks coffee that you can get promised good coffee, but not the best coffee.
56nomad56
"apple... what a joke."

"Never liked Apple and this just puts another nail in the coffin."

Yeah, they must be pretty scared at you two not buying an iPhone. This, from the AP business section talking about HP and Dell:

"That
means the combined market value of HP and Dell - the two largest PC
makers in the U.S. - is less than the $63 billion in revenue Apple got
from iPhones and various accessories during just the past nine months."

So, to summarize, Apple made more in nine months from just their iPhone sales than HP and Dell are worth...COMBINED.

If Apple was offering an inferior product they could only fool people for so long. Honda got complacent and built a crappy new Civic, and the press has raised hell. Cadillac was once the "Standard of the World" and Palm Pilots were the must-have gadgets years ago. You must consistently produce good products or your company will falter.

Right now Apple is doing the right things to be the most valuable company in the world. Whether they stay there or not will depend on future products.

 
doganpc
This reminded me of a TED presentation.
http://www.ted.com/...guson_embrace_the_remix.html

In general it is about technology always being built upon the discoveries of others, but it touches on patents specifically the iphone.  Also a nasty little bit 07:25 by Steve Jobs himself.
fatmanosu
Never liked Apple and this just puts another nail in the coffin.
dmcmeans
That a company should be permitted a patent on something like "pinch and zoom" doesn't jive with most consumers, but it is permitted. Apple is simply the latest Tech/IT company to use the courts to improve their market position. It happens often. In my mind, too often. But the issue really isn't Apple or Samsung or Microsoft or Google taking advantage. It's the patent system and the legal system that create the lawsuit marketplace that a company ignores to its economic peril. We can vote with our wallets on how we feel about Apple's suit. And I think everyone should. But these sorts of suits won't end unless we reform the system that makes them possible.
valle07
i won't support apple anymore. They focus more now on litigation than innovation because they can't keep up with technology. 

Is it really surprising that a California Company won in a California Courtroom vs a Korean Company? In the UK, Apple was ridiculed out of court for bringing a "rubbish" case. apple... what a joke.
aega
But using your example (and comparing it to this case), if Hanes patented a shirt made from one piece of fabric, then Fruit of the Loom comes out with a shirt made from one piece of fabric where the collar and sleeves are "different" than the Hanes version, then Hanes would win a design lawsuit against FotL. 

Same case here. There are some things that should be patent-able (technology, algorithms, how to produce a shirt from one piece of fabric...) and others that should not (rounded corners on icons, the "look" of a shift made from one piece of fabric). Somehow the latter fall under the category of "design patents".

To me it'd be a different story if Samsung phones were direct clones of an iPhone (some Chinese companies happen to make very convincing clones by skinning Android, but I digress), which would by all means be a design patent infringement. (Like how the Nike swoosh and Apple's apple are trademarks, and iPhone is easily recognizable due to the Apple logo on the back. I wouldn't get an Adidas & Nike confused.). Personally I own an S2, and putting it side by side with an iPhone, even unlocked, they look nothing alike.

Since design patents are only granted if the design is novel and not obvious for all items, suddenly rounded icons & rounded edges on smartphones are a "novel concept", despite there being plenty of prior art (blame the USPTO).
pozument
Samsung all the way! Apple products are very restrictive, and greatly overpriced.Everyone is like a poppet buying Ipod and then Iphone (that does everything that Ipod does and more) and then carry them BOTH?!?!?! around. Consumers that have more than one Apple product are just STUPID. Samsung on the other hand: best phones (most innovative and powerful like Note and S III), Best quality TVs, best appliances. Samsung will destroy Apple eventually, its just a matter of time....
drdolil99
I don't believe that you're comparing apples to apples. If Hanes were to copy Jerzees, they would sue. If you look at the differences between the shirts you'd understand. For example. Jerzees sow from 2 separate pieces of material and that's why they have the seam down the sides while Hanes weaves a one piece shirt that is more comfortable... as does fruit of the loom, but they changed the collar and sleeves, so it's technically a different shirt.
If you had a team of developers that you paid millions of dollars to and someone copied your work; you'd sue too. They infringed on a copyright that Apple was smart enough to get first. If Samsung created such great products, they would not have to copy the look and feel of the iPhone.

and BTW, I have an android.. it's just a better device, but I see the justification of suing for this. 
georgetirone
i will never own a apple product not just because some of the restrictions they set as a user but now definitely because of this ridiculous mindset they have...its incredible lets think about this there are so o many products that are similar and almost identical and company's aren't suing each other over it...lets see like shirt companys can you imaging Hanes suing some one like Jerzees because there shirts look exactly like there's or what about all the TV companys all there products look the same...do u see were i am getting at. lets be hones here Apple thinks they are the best at making smartphones and it just so happens that there are other competitors out there that are better. thats why i own a Samsung sgs2 and not an apple iphone. thats why i getting ready to buy a samsung tablet and not an ipad. Apple needs to get off there high horse....whats funny is Apple uses samsung to make there screens for ipad...hmmmmmm 
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