One of the defining trials in the tech industry has been concluded with a verdict that many have been expecting. After less than three days of deliberation, the jury concluded that Samsung was guilty of violations to several of Apple’s patents with regards to its mobile devices. It also threw out Samsung’s counterclaims that Apple themselves violated some of Samsung’s patents.
As a result, the jury recommended that Samsung pay Apple close to $1.05 billion in damages, which was far below the original $2.7 billion. The verdict also leaves Apple open to request for injunctions to be made with regards to blocking the sales of some of Samsung’s mobile devices, including the Galaxy S and S II.
Not all went in Apple’s way, however. The jury concluded that Samsung did not infringe on Apple’s design patents for the iPad with regards to the Galaxy Tab tablet. Samsung is widely expected to appeal the ruling, hence this may not be over just yet.
Read on after the break for more on the trial, including what the ruling means for consumers and the mobile tech industry as a whole.
In an exclusive interview with one of the jurors of the trial, CNET revealed that the internal emails between Samsung executives discussing “Apple features that should be incorporated into their devices” was pretty damning. It didn’t help either when Apple showed pictures of Samsung phones before and after the launch of the iPhone, where there was a very obvious shift in design inspirations in Samsung phones towards the iPhone. In addition, the jurors felt that some of the video testimonies provided by some Samsung executives dodged important questions.
In their statement, Samsung refused to back down, and promised to appeal the ruling. “Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer,” it began. “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.”
“This is not the final word in this case…Samsung will continue to innovate and offer choices for the consumer.”
As expected, Apple issued a typically Apple statement, peppered with sporadic self-praise. “The lawsuits between Apple and Samsung were about much more than patents or money. They were about values. 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.”
It even ended its statement with “stealing isn’t right”.
Even though $1.05 billion does not sound like a huge amount to a company like Samsung (they have $14 billion in cash reserves), the ruling sends a highly damaging ripple effect with regards to Samsung’s reputation. Product designers and even UI engineers may see that they do not have much say in terms of creative freedom. Consumers may stop purchasing Samsung products due to their “lack of morals”.
This ruling does not only affect Samsung, however. It sets a powerful precedent for Apple to pursue other companies that supposedly infringe on their patents. With the full backing of the law behind them, Samsung does have a point in the “monopoly over rectangles with rounded edges” comment in their statement. Companies will set strict design restrictions to prevent such a lawsuit from landing on their doorstep, which again limits creative freedom.
But then again, the ruling does have its positives. This precedent would encourage designers to explore new, radical designs that “changes everything”, or whatever Apple would call it. Consumers will have more choices in terms of device design, and new UIs that eventually usher in a new smartphone revolution.