With the air clearing on Apple’s surprisingly swift and broad victory over Samsung Friday in their patent face-off in federal court in San Jose, attention is turning to the impact of the decision on future innovation in the tech industry, barring any major reversals of the jury’s $1 billion decision on appeal.
Friday’s ruling “is a clear message to the rest of the industry to get busy licensing or get busy innovating,” Morgan Reed, executive director of the Association for Competitive Technology says in a Financial Times story that carries the headline: “Apple Ruling Redraws Battle Lines.”
“What this case proves most of all: Hell hath no fury like an Apple imitated,” write Bianca Bosker and Dino Grandoni in The Huffington Press. “Consumers will feel the heat, too.”
Make no mistake that the jury intended to influence the way tech community does business going forward. It "wanted to send a message to the industry at large that patent infringing is not the right thing to do, not just Samsung," jury foreman Velvin Hogan tells the San Jose Mercury News’ Howard Mintz.
Like many consumers, the 67-year-old electrical engineer has never owned an Apple product because they are “too pricey,” but he considered his own experience in patenting products in deciding -- quite methodically, he claims -- that Apple’s case was righteous.
"It became clear Samsung in some cases chose to ignore when it knew, or should have known, what they were doing in their products was infringing on" Apple's intellectual property rights, according to Hogan.
“History buffs will note that Apple scored one of the most lopsided victories since Agincourt on Tim Cook's one-year anniversary as the company's CEO,” write CNET’s Charles Cooper and Greg Sandoval. But there is still a lot of legal maneuvering ahead, they point out. "It feels like it's over but it's got a long way to go yet," says Santa Clara University law professor Brian Love -- and not only between Samsung and Apple.
“Patent lawyers predict the jury's decision will likely ratchet up an already heavy flow of patent suits in the tech sector, and could open new ground for litigation,” write the Wall Street Journal’s Jessica E. Vascellaro and Don Clark. “More courtroom warfare could raise costs to makers of smartphones and tablets and reduce the number of gadgets on the market -- increasing prices to consumers, some lawyers and market watchers say.”
There’s also the court of public opinion, and it will be interesting to see how Samsung and its allies (particularly Google) and Apple continue to spin the decision to “swing voters” –- those consumers who are not already ardent Apple fanboys vs. the “Apple Sucks” contingents. One need go no further than the comments section of just about any story about the lawsuit to read diatribes on either side of the great divide.
Google’s initial reaction is that most of the claims "don't relate to the core Android operating system," according to The Verge’s Brian Bishop.
The Wall Street Journal asks readers to weigh in with their own opinions on how the verdict “will affect the future of smartphones and tablets.” With about 2,600 votes cast this morning, about 52% say “unfavorably: few designs, tech standards”; 35% say “favorably: more diverse design, technology”; 13% say “both.
In the “beware of unintended consequences” category, the Financial Times’ Tim Bradshaw and Simon Mundy point out that Apple’s short-term victory might lead to innovation that could throttle it in the long term.
“The real threat is not a competitor beating Apple at its own game but instead changing the game,” according to a widely quoted UBS note distributed last week. “The likelihood of Apple being leapfrogged or a rival creating a new category is greater if they have to think out of the box.”
Microsoft may be in the best position to profit due to its tile-based Windows Phone designs. On Saturday, Bill Cox, its director of marketing communications tweeted: “Windows Phone is looking gooooood right now.”
“Microsoft’s product has not gained traction for a number of possible reasons, among them the big lead its rivals had in the marketplace and the relatively weak distribution of its main partner, Nokia,” Wingfield writes. “But the experience shows that any flourishing of innovative products prompted by the Samsung verdict may not translate into success for Apple’s rivals.”