Opinion: Apple v Samsung – After the Main Event

Opinion: Apple v Samsung   After the Main EventSo the dust is beginning to settle after the so-called tech court case of the decade.  Apple has come out the victor and Samsung supposedly have been crushed – or at least their lawyers have.  So what’s next?

For Apple it will be business as usual, there will no doubt be an appeal, there is talk of the Supreme Court becoming involved however for now Apple have successfully defended the validity of their patents as well as their trade dress and their case has been upheld in the eyes of the law.  Apple’s lawyers will undoubtedly have a list of companies that are next on the list but this may well wait until after any possible appeal.

So what about Samsung and Android.  Twitter seems full of people proclaiming the rapid demise of Google’s OS, apparently Windows Phone is about to rise, the CEO’s are on the phone to Microsoft as we speak and development for Android will cease.

Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG, Huawei, and not to mention the now Google owned Motorola have poured millions between them in research and development for the Android platform.  Most have their own take on the OS and have adapted it to suit them, are they really going to abandon all that work, effort and money on the back of one court case that may yet be overturned?

The real point here is that the mobile industry has never stood still, handsets today are unrecognisable from their ancestors of only 10 years ago, the operating systems that were dominant only 6 years ago have all but disappeared to be replaced by other, better ones, and in fact many of the handsets that appeared in the case are now yesterdays news.

This change is inexorable and will not stop.

Lessons do need to be learned, it is obvious to anyone with eyes that certain (if not all) design cues for the Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy SII appear to have been taken from the iPhone, a document detailing what they did really wasn’t needed.  A complete redesign was undertaken for the SIII and the sales figures and hype surrounding it show what (in some peoples eyes) good design can achieve without copying others and if patents really stifle innovation then why was the Galaxy SIII a complete change in design?

In another sense nothing will change, the manufacturers will go on churning out handsets with their various adaptations of Android – complete with license agreements or workarounds, there will still be the Android v Apple argument over which is better and mobiles will still sell in their millions every year.

In 5 years time the court case will just be another page on a history book, Android will probably still be the OS with the biggest market share while Apple will still have people queuing outside their stores for days waiting for the latest iPhone and this is simply because most people not involved in some way with technology don’t care about patents being copied, who designed what or where their mobile device came from, they just want a phone that works.

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  • Anonymous

    I’m of the opinion that when a company gets to the size of Apple, making the profit it does, and exerting the influence it does on the marketplace, certain other elements should be considered by the courts in a case like this. Patent laws or not.

    The smartphone market, in the way it has moved on in the last few years is unprecedented. The legal system is never going to keep up with technology; nor should it have to. This is why I firmly believe that competition in this fast moving marketplace is a good thing.

    Any company which dominates a market in such a way that it makes it so difficult for anyone else to compete should not have the same rights as those whom are trying to compete. This helps to level the playing field a little, and encourages innovation.

    So, in this case, the court has supposedly proven that Samsung copied enough of Apples design that they should have to pay for it. Who does this benefit? Nobody, to any real extent. I’d argue that it does not even benefit Apple. Apple are the most cash rich company in the entire history of the world. Their original shareholders are happy people. This might have a temporary positive effect on their share price, but to no great extent. What are Apple going to do with the money? If history is anything to go by, not a great deal. None of the less fortunate people in the world will benefit, and Apple will barely notice it being thrown on the pile.

    Samsung will be damaged by it, and it has now set legal precident, which is an extremely negative thing. I can only hope that the high court will overturn this decision, and throw the whole case out. In fact, that’s the very best thing that can happen here – for the case to be thrown out, as it will disuade anyone from going down this road unless absolutely necessary. The Apple/Samsung case was not necessary.

    I think at the very top end of commercial law, there should be various clauses to look at these cases in the context of the world economy, and the power a certain outcome would give market leaders. Then look at what each company ‘gives the world’. It might sound a bit corney, but these are the cases when you can’t just apply the letter of the law, and things become political on an international scale.