As the school year is about to start, students everywhere should learn a lesson from electronics manufacturer Samsung. Copying someone else’s work will cost you! Yesterday, a jury for the patent case between Apple and Samsung ruled that many features found on Samsung Android phones were direct copies and violated patents owned by Apple. The jury than awarded $1 billion in damages to Apple.
It is expected that Samsung will appeal the case but there is a short period between now and an appeal where Apple will try and negotiate licensing deals with Samsung to put this quarrel behind the two companies. It was a huge day for Apple and for the employees that helped create the iPad and iPhone.
After the ruling was made, Tim Cook sent out a memo to Apple employees acknowledging the victory in court. His memo included:
The jury has now spoken. We applaud them for finding Samsung’s behavior willful and for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn’t right.
What Does This Mean For Android Phones
Interestingly enough, while the lawsuit was against Samsung, many of the features that the jury ruled Samsung copied were user interface features of the Android operating system. Similar interface features are also available on HTC Android phones and a similar lawsuit may be brought against them and other Android phone manufacturers. This fact must have phone manufacturers nervous and looking for other options.
It’s clear that Apple feels that they’re the winner with this ruling. I’m sure the iPhone and iOS engineers probably feel a sense of satisfaction with the court ruling. But my main concern is if consumers will win from this decision. I am a huge fan of the iPhone and don’t see anything pushing me to buy another type of phone for at least the next few years but I do love competition. I feel that it brings the best out of everyone and wonder if any legal edge will be a cause for Apple’s engineers to stop developing great products at a pace they’re capable of. It seems that a number of other consumers are concerned with the ruling:
Still don’t get this whole Apple vs Samsung patent battle. No one really has an original idea these days.
— Jason Kok (@JLCKok) August 27, 2012
It’s clear that investors on Wall Street don’t see the court case as a win for Samsung as shares quickly tumbled 7%. Samsung is expected to appeal the case and I imagine will hope for a jury that is a bit more open to what Samsung describes as “obvious” functionality.
The biggest winner from the ruling may be Microsoft. Their Windows Phone operating system is not connected to this ruling in any way and now stands as a clear legal competitor to the iPhone. The deal Microsoft made with Nokia seems to make even more sense now for all parties involved. Nokia is free from many legal head aches and able to produce modern smart phones with interactive and attractive features.
No matter what the long term impact is for Android phones, hopefully Microsoft and others in the smart phone business will be able to keep Apple on their toes and push all companies to continue to build new and great technology for consumers.