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Apple Watch: Apple Wins $1 Billion Verdict Vs. Samsung
Sunday, 2012 August 26 - 1:29 pm
On Friday, a 9-person jury returned a verdict in favor of Apple to the tune of $1.05 billion in a closely-watched patent infringement trial against rival Samsung.

Apple's assertions that Samsung violated its patents on trade dress (the look and design of the iPhone and iPad) and certain aspects of iOS functionality (like the "bounce back" effect when you scroll past the end of a document) were upheld; meanwhile Samsung's assertions that Apple violated its standards-essential wireless patents were rejected as an abuse of the standards process.

According to comments made by the jury following the trial, the verdict came down to a few things: the fact that Samsung was able to come up with a copy-cat phone design after just a few months while Apple spent five years developing the iPhone; the incriminating internal documents in which Samsung compared its products to Apple's in excruciating detail; and the evasiveness of Samsung executives on the witness stand.

Now I know a number of people, anti-Apple people in particular, will decry this verdict as another example of our broken patent system. But to me, this is exactly what the patent system is supposed to do: protect the innovators and punish the copycats. Though some say the rectangular touch-screen iPhone design is "obvious", it certainly wasn't obvious to any phone manufacturers before the iPhone came out. In fact, at the time, most pundits and competing companies ridiculed the iPhone's keyboard-less design.

The other half of the verdict may be even more important to Apple. Samsung tried to assert that its wireless patents, used in a component that Apple purchases from Intel (not a component that Apple designed itself), were being infringed by Apple, and that the cost of the infringement should be based on the full retail price of the iPhone. I'm glad to see this flimsy argument was rejected.

Of course the war isn't completely over. Samsung will assuredly appeal, Apple will attempt to expand the verdict to more Samsung devices, and Samsung will redesign its existing products to avoid the patent infringement. As we know from Samsung's ability to produce a copycat design in the first place, the company is nimble. It won't take much for Samsung to put a big nonfunctional purple button on the face of its phone (or something equally ridiculous) and use that as a differentiating factor when it comes to trade dress; and working around the software patents will make the product work somewhat clumsily, but it will still work. And Samsung will continue selling phones for billions of dollars.

But really, it's the legacy of this verdict that matters to Apple. It's a breathtaking victory in its ongoing struggle versus Android. Samsung won't be mortally wounded: the companies that will be hurt most by this will be other Android phone makers like HTC, who may be nervous about their own potential liability. And then there's Google itself, which may find other companies defecting to the Windows platform to avoid the Android battle altogether. Yes, that's right... a surprising second winner from this verdict may turn out to be Microsoft.

How times have changed.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

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