The court case alleged that Samsung had infringed on a number of Apple’s patents with its mobile phone products. Apple’s case revolved around internal documents from Samsung that showed the company deliberately copying iPhone design and UI elements.
Harold McElhinny, an Apple lawyer, asserted that Samsung purposefully copied Apple’s product in his closing statement last week.
“They sat with the iPhone and went feature by feature, copying it to the smallest detail… In those critical three months, Samsung was able to copy and incorporate the core part of Apple’s four-year investment without taking any of the risks, because they were copying the world’s most successful product.”
Samsung retorted that it was merely doing benchmarks between its product and similar products from competitors, and that the documents presented by Apple represented only routine competitive analysis.
The jury proved unconvinced, however, and presented their precedent-setting decision after three days of deliberation on Friday. A chart published by the Wall Street Journal shows which patents Samsung was found to be guilty of violating and with what devices Samsung was violating said patents.
Apple, in an official statement after the verdict was announced, welcomed the verdict.
“At Apple, we value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy. We applaud the court for finding Samsung’s behavior willful and for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn’t right.”
Samsung, however, released a negative statement about its defeat.
“Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer… It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices. 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. Consumers have the right to choices, and they know what they are buying when they purchase Samsung products. 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. Samsung will continue to innovate and offer choices for the consumer.”
Samsung intends to appeal the decision if the court will not overturn its verdict.
Analysis: There are several important things to notice here, so let’s go through them one by one.
Firstly, the homeogeny of the smartphone market is probably going to evaporate pretty quickly, with $1 billion USD in damages encouraging other companies to diversify their products to avoid similar lawsuits. Furthermore, with Apple solidifying a considerable portion of its smartphone line as competition-proof, other mobile technology companies will have to find new ways of alluring customers away from iPhones. This includes having to reinvent how smartphones are used; one of the patents that was found to be violated was the Android operating system’s ability to zoom in when users swipe their fingers across the screen.
Secondly, Android is going to take a hit. As Mark Lemley, a Stanford law professor, put it in an ABC interview:
“I think Apple’s ultimate target is not just Samsung but the Android ecosystem… They view Google as their ultimate competitor; this is a setback for all of Android.”
Several of the patents, including the zoom-in feature mentioned above, aren’t limited to Samsung but are properties of the Android operating system that Samsung used for its smartphones. That means that Android is probably going to lose ground to Microsoft’s new Windows Phone, which could begin to threaten Google’s operating platform.
Thirdly, Samsung could see some more setbacks as Apple is seeking a ban on a variety of Samsung products that were found to infringe on Apple’s patents. Although Samsung is a successful company by the large and will be able to survive this ordeal, having its products banned from sale and removed from stores is adding insult to injury and making things worse for the embattled electronics giant.
Finally, expect Apple to continue to dominate the market for now. With its competition knocked off its pedestal and forced to rebuild, the company that’s already one of the most successful in U.S. history is set to be just that much more successful in the near future.