Winner: Samsung, who showed that cheating (copying) worked, according to trenchant analysis by the inimitable Robert Scoble. The $1B damages, even if trebled, and the injunction on eight older phones, even if granted, and the jinks and jives from endless appeals, even if they end in Apple’s favor, means that by copying Samsung has become the dominant smartphone vendor for a relatively small price. And now they can work around the specific claims to keep going.
Losers: Some argue Nokia/Microsoft are the big winners, but this is premature if not ridiculous. Nokia fumbled the future, RIM ignored it, and while Microsoft is doing something different than copying (innovation!), it is slavishly trying to extend the Windows franchise to the phone, which hasn’t worked out well for it so far.
Irony: The fickle finger of fate now points to Google and Android. Google bought Motorola for patents for this very fight; ironically, the Samsung case did not really read much on Android, but some of the design arguments may carry over to Motorola, so while Google may escape an Android injunction it may end up paying Motorola license fees.
Petty whining: many Apple bashers have argued that this was a “home court” decision, but comments from the jury show that unlikely:
“Nobody on the jury [owns an iPhone]. In fact, I own no Apple equipment, and intentionally have not for a number of years. I am a PC person… my wife has a Samsung phone, but it’s not a smartphone.”
“[Apple] did not have home field advantage. The Android operating system clear in and of itself was not something that infringed. We actually as the jury set aside the close proximity and looked strictly at the evidence as it spoke for itself, and it was overwhelming that Samsung should have known or did now that they were infringing.”
Awesome serendipity: After all the patent troll bashing of recent months, and a series of patent-weakening SCOTUS decisions, it is interesting to see two huge decisions in one week: this one, and Myriad Genetics, which upheld the patentability of synthetic genes (genes not found in nature but designed to act as little protein machines).
My take: In the ongoing globalization battles between copiers and innovators, it is refreshing to uphold the value of innovation, at least in US markets.