A jury in the US has, after just three days deliberating, ruled that Samsung must pay Apple more than $1 billion in damages. The lawsuit had focussed on alleged patent infringements by Samsung in terms of both software and design relating to Apple's iPhone and iPad devices. Although not all of the claims made by Apple were upheld by the jury, it did agree that several Samsung devices had violated the intellectual property rights of Apple. At the same time, claims by Samsung that Apple had breached several of its patents were dismissed by the jury.
Samsung is expected to file post-verdict motions to overturn the decision as soon as possible, vowing to take the matter to the Court of Appeals if necessary in an attempt to prevent Apple from seeking a ban on the import of several Samsung smartphone and tablet devices into the US market. Given that the two companies currently have more than half of the worldwide sales of smartphones and tablets wrapped up between them, the money at stake is huge. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as a result of the verdict Apple shares spiked, with the market value of the company seeing a two percent increase.
Equally unsurprising, and many industry observers who have become increasingly frustrated with the outcome of patent disputes in the technology space during recent years would agree, Samsung saw the verdict as less of a win for Apple and more a defeat for the consumer. A Samsung spokesperson said that it would lead to less choice, less innovation and higher prices, adding "it is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners".
Of course, the truth is that the case did not just concern the matter of rounding the corners of a rectangle, but a whole bunch of software and design concerns. The trouble being that these are the features that pretty much every touch-screen smartphone and tablet employs, from the icon grid to the rounded-rectangle shape. Yep, Apple owns the patent and therefore the legal rights to not only the look of icons on a touch-screen but also the detection of 'finger gestures' on the same. A great example of why the technology patent system needs either ripping down or revamping at the very least. Some things are too broad, too generic to be patented, or at least should be. Yet with aesthetics such as rounded corners on a rectangle (the shape of icons) being passed through the patent process, common sense appears to have been long since thrown out of the window.
Apple may well be rejoicing today, and indeed it is with statements such as the verdict "sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn't right" and how Apple values "originality and innovation". However, that doesn't make it right and nor does this verdict. Before you accuse me of being a 'hater' I should point out that, actually, I am something of an Apple fanboy. I own both iPhones and iPads, and am something of an evangelist for their usage. That doesn't mean that I defend the indefensible, and that's what the majority of these patent infringement decisions appear to be...
What do you think? Was the court right to rule with Apple? Was Apple right to take Samsung on over this? Will the verdict strangle innovation? Does the technology patent system need to be revised? Join in the DaniWeb conversation and let us know.