What the Apple vs. Samsung Verdict Means for You (Hint: Don’t Panic)

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Lee Jae Won / Reuters

Apple's iPhone 4s (L) and Samsung's Galaxy S III (R).

Apple won a decisive victory against Samsung in court last week when a jury awarded $1.05 billion in damages to Apple for Samsung’s infringement of design patents, software patents and trade dress.

That chunk of change will make a nice addition to Apple’s already-overflowing coffers, but the damages alone don’t mean much for the phone-buying public. The bigger question is how the verdict will affect Samsung, other device makers, the Android platform and the smartphone and tablet markets in general, both now and in the future.

(MORE: Verdict Reached in Apple vs. Samsung Patent Case)

Unfortunately, nobody knows the answer right now–though there’s no shortage of prognostications. The ultimate outcome really depends on the post-trial process, Apple’s next moves and a mound of other ongoing litigation.

So instead of making grand predictions, I’m going to focus on what we do know, and what we can reasonably expect from here:

Older Samsung Phones Face Injunctions

Earlier today, Apple asked for U.S. sales bans on a list of Samsung phones. That list includes the Galaxy S II (AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile variants), Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Galaxy Prevail and Droid Charge. A hearing on the matter is set for September 20.

All those phones are at least 10 months old, but they’re still available as low-cost options through their respective wireless carriers. They’ll have to be removed from store shelves if the injunction goes through, but for the moment, nothing is banned.

Newer Samsung phones, such as the Galaxy S III, Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Note, weren’t on trial. Apple may go after those phones next, but as I’ve written before, Samsung has veered sharply away from Apple-like designs in its latest products, so future cases would likely focus on software patents. (We’ll get to more on software shortly.)

Of course, if you already own a Samsung phone, rest easy; no one’s going to take it away.

Other Android Phone Makers Aren’t Samsung

Apple has ongoing litigation against HTC and Motorola, but neither of those cases involve trade dress, which deals with design aesthetics. When you look at phones like Motorola’s Droid Razr, or HTC’s Droid Incredible, you can see why: To differentiate, HTC and Motorola rely on little tricks such as asymmetric trim on the top and bottom bezels, corners that don’t result in perfectly rounded rectangles and the use of different colors besides black with silver trim.

Again, even Samsung has employed some of these methods to give a distinctive look to its newer phones. In that sense, the fallout from Apple’s lawsuit has already happened.

(MORE: How Apple Got What It Wanted Before the Trial Was Even Over)

Will Apple nonetheless try to rally and file new design-related claims against its other competitors? I don’t know, but at the moment, Apple’s U.S. lawsuits against HTC and Motorola deal mainly with software and user interface design, which is arguably a much bigger issue anyway because it speaks to Android as a whole.

Android Is Safe, Says Google, but Is It?

The Apple-Samsung lawsuit didn’t just deal with design and looks. It also covered specific software functions, such as pinch-to-zoom, tap-to-zoom, inertial scrolling and “overscroll bounce,” which causes the screen to decelerate and snap back into place when you’ve scrolled beyond a page’s boundaries.

Apple has already dinged Android on a few other issues, but the resulting changes to the operating system are minor: HTC was forced to change how its phones respond to tapping on certain types of text, such as phone numbers and e-mails, and Samsung had to remove universal search from its Galaxy S III and Galaxy Nexus. The “overscroll bounce” effect is no longer featured in the core version of Android.

If these new infringements spell trouble for Android as a whole, Google isn’t saying so. The company claims that many of the patents at issue relate to Samsung’s modified version of Android, but not the core operating system. In addition, The Verge’s Nilay Patel said he was told that the latest version of Android, known as Jelly Bean, removes any outstanding patent issues.

Of course, many Android phones don’t run Jelly Bean, so Apple could use its win over Samsung as extra ammo against other phone makers. But then, Google notes that the U.S. Patent Office is reexamining several Apple patents, and that the Samsung case is still due for an appeal. Meanwhile, Google has lobbed a fresh lawsuit at Apple, using Motorola patents.

In other words, none of this is getting resolved anytime soon.

Sorry, but the Future Is Unknown

Apple’s win in court has led to lots of sky-is-falling claims from tech pundits and analysts. Andy Ihnatko thinks Android device makers will have to pay a licensing fee to Apple for every phone sold. UBS thinks Samsung could be looking at future royalty payments as part of a settlement. BetaNews claims that choice and innovation will certainly suffer.

As far as I can tell, all of that is pure speculation, based on one verdict against Apple’s closest imitator, which itself is not set in stone. (Here’s a post from Groklaw on the biggest holes in the jury’s decision.) And in any case, there’s plenty of evidence that phone makers have already hedged their bets by designing around Apple’s patents and trade dress.

The only real safe bet right now is that other companies won’t come as close to Apple’s designs as Samsung once did. Whether you agree with the jury’s verdict or not, ask yourself this: Is a market with fewer me-too devices really all that bad?

MORE: Why Apple’s Win over Samsung Is Ultimately Good News for Consumers

53 comments
PhilLynnGlick
PhilLynnGlick

Apple need to get their pay attendant their tech work fast than look over other who stole their. Because it have no time to do. It got move so fast now. I owned the apple iPhone for four yrs. Now time to go switch smartphone because tired of hear Apple suit.

PhilLynnGlick
PhilLynnGlick

Hey You Apple need to stop suit everybody who stole patient. You will fell down in hole bad.

Manda Kasson
Manda Kasson

While I can understand why apple is upset, maybe they should make thier products more affordable and not so hard to repair.  All the other companies are mimicking them because they like thier product. 

Michael T Branche
Michael T Branche

Let's take a look at some patent issues. For instance, Mechanics and Machinists stumped fir years to get Federal Safety regulation concerning dangerous sharp edges on devices in the workplace beveled or radiused on the corners to prevent injuries to those who might fall or bump into these items by accident. If it is against thw law to have sharp edges on office equipment, how can a management company take money for Union Patents?

davidrsfl
davidrsfl

That seals it for me, never ever again will I even consider purchasing an apple product no matter what.  And if my memory serves me correctly, wasn't apple the one that STOLE the technoloy that became the ipod from Sony or some other company.  And was that not the toy that built apple to be the greediest company on earth today?  The only apple product I have ever owned was an ibook, it sits at the bottom of the canal near my house, what a piece of crap.

OzzieBri
OzzieBri

All I can say is the US legal system is a total toss! How can you patent a shape that is used in many industries on many devices and has been for decades? 1970s calculators were rounded rectangles and had rounded rectangular buttons, just as one example.

I am not sure what the patent is meant to be regarding clicking on certain text and numbers...but if the article means bringing up the dial screen with the number..this is basic hyperlink functionality...once again how can you patent that?! Apple didn't invent the hyperlink.Universal search exists on all popular computer operating systems and has for many years...  smartphones are basically a hand-held computers, so how can Apple patent that? Every phone has the right to have a built-in full system search without paying Apple for the privilege.Look at pinch zoom and think about the size of a phone screen. How many ways can you zoom to a specific point on a small device without a mouse? There are only a handful of ways it could even be done, so none of those methods should be allowed to be patented. If there's 5 ways of doing something, then you can't say "oh they were the first to come up with it, so they own it". Everyone would have come up with it eventually due to the limited ways things can be done on such a small device.It just goes to show people who work in the legal industry don't have to be intelligent. Anyone who granted those type of patents is either brain-dead or totally naive. 

Florine Calens
Florine Calens

I like Samsung products even phones I like most by Samsung. Samsung's all electronic products are nice. It's LCD TV which I stable in my home theatre gives a clean, clear and calm feeling and I use http://www.absinthelights.com/... for suitable lighting in my home theatre. It gives my theatre a new definition.

Timo Moraz
Timo Moraz

There's certainly no shortage of Apple haters on here. Read through the trade dress patents and you'll understand why Samsung lost. The internal emails between Samsung executives are even more damning. A 134 page pdf of an internal design briefing showing iPhone features Samsung would like to integrate into their next Galaxy phone? Theft is theft. I hope the judge triples the damages and Tim Cook donates it to charity.

bklm1234
bklm1234

What theft?  Samsung stole Apple's cases from their warehouse or factory and put a Samsung logo on them to make their phones?  Samsung copied the design, not stole!  Not the same thing, not the same punishment i.e. if copying should be punished at all.  The hard work is in the implementation.  An idea or design on a piece of napkin doesn't deserve years of monopoly or a licensing fee.  Ideas such as portable communicator, tablet, laser gun or flying car, it's a dime a dozen.  The 1st person who makes a gadget is not necessary the best implementator.  Why society allows only he but nobody else do the same thing.  Let other people copy the idea and do a better job.  The original iphone was good for a short time.  Android copied iOS and improved on many of the same thing features.  iOS had to improve.  The cycle goes on and on.  What's bad about that?

Byst1nder
Byst1nder

You are dreaming if Tim Cook would really donate that to Charity. Wouldn't it better if they give it to their Design team and really design a new IPhone / IPad every year, instead of just improving the present one after every other year (example Iphone 3G, 4S, new Ipad)?

With exception of the siri inIphone 4S, why would you buy it if you already have Iphone 4 - which is almost the same? Unless you're a Apple Addict.

MrMarauder
MrMarauder

By all means, hold your breath and wait for it to happen.

Beer Drinkin Fool
Beer Drinkin Fool

almost bought an iphone the other day, bought an  android instead. Will NEVER give apple a penny of my money

Arnold Vincent Ong
Arnold Vincent Ong

Sammsung should pay! It's clear that there are alo of  similarities between apple and samsung products... It's just a matter of questioning "who copied?" OBVIOUSLY SAMSUNG DID!~

MrMarauder
MrMarauder

There's no denying Samsung imitated iPhone on certain aspects, but there is only so much diversity. That's like saying you can't make a door because it infringes on the original patent.

Justin Credible
Justin Credible

Fun fact: Steve Jobs used his money to jump ahead of less wealthy people on organ donor lists.

Rustylink
Rustylink

Apple and US court have demonstrated tha UP-patents are no longer fit for purpose as they damage public interest by granting patents for trivial and evident innovations. One might as well permit patents for pipes turning corners,  for cars having a steering wheel, running on four wheels, or having front facing driving seats. 

It is high time some sense of proportion was reintroduced into rights and patents, bearing in mind that patents have no purpose if they don't advance the long term interests of consumers as a whole, and if they  handicap the process of innovation.

Kelly Nelson
Kelly Nelson

I despise thieves of all kinds so it's nice to see the originators win against the criminals.  Stealing ideas is still stealing, just don't try to tell that to an Asian "bottom feeder" businessman.

Justin Credible
Justin Credible

 Let's talk about stealing ideas, Kelly. iPhone is a blatant LG Prada ripoff.

LG Prada Design Revealed:  January 18, 2007

crApple iPhone released: June 29, 2007

Timo Moraz
Timo Moraz

The LG Prada issue was brought up during the Samsung trial. Apple introduced non-functional engineer prototypes from 2005. Google it-

Gentler_Reader
Gentler_Reader

And if LG had followed through and gone to court against Apple at that time, your point might carry some real weight today.

Sam Trutna
Sam Trutna

Well at least we can rest easy that LG isn't run by children

HadleyS
HadleyS

Such BS. Apple claims credit for everything. Clever marketing is a great way to fool to the public. 

Angie Hartz- Johnson
Angie Hartz- Johnson

I wish other companies would stop trying to make their own iphone.  As a consumer who absolutely hates touch screen phones, I really wish there was one company willing to develop a smart phone with button navigation only.  I've switched to a pay as you go plan because touch screens don't fare very well on a farm and need replaced frequently.

Reeves1
Reeves1

After reading the post from Groklaw linked in th article, it sounds like the jury fell under the Apple cult's spell.  Lots of points for appeal.  

desuhu61
desuhu61

Another reason to avoid Apple products.  My grandson won't buy them, because he says they try to control everything, and want all the business from everyone.  Talk about a monopoly.

Mike259
Mike259

Somebody explain this to me. An American company wins a significant intellectual/patent case against an Asian company who by the way are famous for copying/infringing with impunity, and most of the Apple haters posting everywhere (which I assume are mostly American) are showing their support for the Korean company?

What am I missing here?

Chris Carter
Chris Carter

Samsung manufactures products in the US and is building a large complex in Texas. Apple's products are 100% non-US. Which is better for the US economy? 

Sam Trutna
Sam Trutna

 There's more to business than "USA USA USA"

Maybe it's about fair use of common ideas. Maybe its about preventing a monopoly on a market.

You want to talk about a company that copies and steals with impunity? Look no farther than Apple, they've been doing it for decades and nobody cares. People even defend them. To quote Steve Jobs, "...we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."

Sam Trutna
Sam Trutna

You're essentially saying that it's OK to steal the ideas of accomplishments of others so long as it's not immediately obvious. Not that that's particularly relevant, since if you look at all the ideas and inventions Apple has stolen none of them are in a "junk heap of lost, bypassed, and forgotten ideas". I get that you want to think you're better than me, I really get that, you're human and some people need that. Really though, just because I see a quote where a guy admits to stealing, whether it be from a junk heap or the Louvre, and call the kettle black, doesn't make me a plebeian or particularly unhygienic. It just makes me a straight shooter that doesn't get hung up on the semantics of where exactly the thief is stealing from.

Ujjwal
Ujjwal

 Mike,

With your word choices in your sentences, its not hard to tell you are well educated.

No doubt, USA used to be number 1. But why do we call USA #1 any more?

Because USA is trying to get Julian Assange , who exposed the wrong doings of USA?

Or because its imprisoning Bradley Manning in some cell in Guantanamo?

Yes, Our government has done lots of good things, but we as citizen have to criticize, if something is going wrong. We cant blindly support and agree with whatever our government is doing.

This case is not American company vs some asian company. Its about one company trying to take control of the market, unfairly.

Mike259
Mike259

Sorry Sam, but as far as I'm concerned, USA is #1. 

And about your cherry picked quote, let's get the entire thing down:

"Good artists copy, great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about

stealing great ideas"

First half belongs to Picasso. Second part belongs to Jobs.

And what did Picasso really mean by that. A good article I read once sums it up better than I ever could:

"Picasso hardly meant that great artists

steal popular designs whose original source is known to everyone. What Picasso

did mean was that great artists rummage through the great junk heap of lost,

bypassed, and forgotten ideas to find the rare jewels, and then incorporate such

languishing gems into their own personal artistic legacy."

Unfortunately the unwashed masses to which you seem to belong, take a quote that is beyond their comprehension and liberally spin their own conclusion. 

desuhu61
desuhu61

 Someone compared this case to flat screen TV's.  I don't know who the first manufacturer was to make one, but now there are a lot of flat screen TV's with different names on them.  As my grandson says, Apple tries to control every aspect of anything they offer and they're high priced too.

Kelly Nelson
Kelly Nelson

 They invented it, the others stole it.  They didn't steal to benefit the consumer, they stole to benefit themselves.  You are pro-crime?  Stealing is a crime you know.

Tony Aceves
Tony Aceves

 thats like saying coke invented its color and sizzlness therefore pepsi and rc cola and sams choice cola stole from coke....its just plain out stupid....and apple got away with it the jury must of had iphones and ignorance because a law suit on how something looks is a no brainer....a bigger law suit is going on though...and its apple vs android. this time on the design think of coke chasing pepsi because of the similarities of taste (stupid) but if that jury is as dumb as this jury it wont be long before we see a monopoly....

AVOID APPLE THEIR ASSHOLES

Luis Caro
Luis Caro

no one of the members had shares at apple

RealityBetraysUs
RealityBetraysUs

 Yes stealing is a crime but what about all the jobs that Apple stole from American workers by deciding to locate their factories in slave labor China at Foxconn, instead of providing jobs for Americans in this country which subsidized them and allowed them to make obscene profits (more than Exxon) by charging 3 times what other computer manufacturers charge for similar products and only paying slave labor wages in China. It seems to me Steve Jobs stole not only American Jobs from this country, but also ripped off American consumers by charging 3 times what the product is worth. Is this not a crime against all of America? What corporate America has done is to destroy the middle class in this country by outsourcing  jobs; is a crime and should be punishable by lifetime jail sentences. Yes and since Steve jobs was not a born again Christian I am confident that God himself is punishing him in Hell right now, not only for his unrepentant heart, but his greed and indifference to the American worker.

Sam Trutna
Sam Trutna

 A half dozen companies had phones with internet capabilities/apps/keyboards, aka a smartphone, years and years before the iPhone. How can people seriously not know this?

RealityBetraysUs
RealityBetraysUs

 Apple sent real American jobs to Slavelabor camp called "Foxconn" in china. If you buy Apple products you are supporting slave labor and Communism, by your argument then you are for slave labor, economic exploitation of the masses and corporate greed, and against American labor, American built products and free trade on a "level playing field".

So you are an admitted Communist, exploiter, and defend anyone right to promote their greed over this countries attempt to create more jobs for the out of work middle class. We should ship your ass to China...

Justin Credible
Justin Credible

LG Prada Design Revealed:  January 18, 2007

crApple iPhone released: June 29, 2007

crApple ripped off LG.

Kyle Stedman
Kyle Stedman

It was actually reviewed in December 2006.  Point still made.

7LeagueBoots
7LeagueBoots

Apple should never have won that case, or if so, not for that much money.  They took ideas from elsewhere and copied other companies designs, but the judge wouldn't allow that in as evidence.

 

NagiT
NagiT

One of tech companies must have made flat screen TVs first, and others followed. But we didn't see any lawsuit about that. I think Apple is being too hard on it.

Kelly Nelson
Kelly Nelson

 Much more tech in a phone than a flat screen TV, unless you have one with a touch screen?

Sam Trutna
Sam Trutna

 You don't know much about modern TVs do you?

Blk Fx
Blk Fx

#BoycottApple

Ali Usman
Ali Usman

Just put my 3gs into a drawer

Kelly Nelson
Kelly Nelson

Sure, why hate the thieves when you can hate on the inventors?  You a crook, too?

Sam Trutna
Sam Trutna

 I would consider educating yourself

Justin Credible
Justin Credible

Hey Kelly, check this out:

LG Prada Design Revealed:  January 18, 2007

crApple iPhone released: June 29, 2007

crApple ripped off LG.

IQMinusOne
IQMinusOne

Definitely. I am an app developer and I was planning to develop for Mac and iPhone. If this verdict is not overturned, I am gonna shelve that plan.