What Apple's $1B victory means for consumers

Aug 27, 2012 by Peter Svensson
Banners advertising Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S III and Apple's iPhone 4S are displayed at a mobilephone shop in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. After more than three weeks of trial in the U.S. and two days of deliberations, the nine-person jury said Friday that Samsung copied Apple's iPhone and iPad and ordered the South Korean firm to pay more than $1 billion in damages. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Apple's $1 billion court victory over Samsung poses a lot of questions for consumers. Will Samsung phones still be available for sale? Will they be more expensive? Will owners of existing phones need to worry?

A in San Jose, California, ruled late Friday that Samsung, the world's largest maker of phones, had copied features of the and the . That included the "bounce-back" behavior when a user scrolls to the end of a page and the ability to zoom in on an image by spreading two fingers.

The jury awarded $1.05 billion in damages. That was less than the $2.5 billion sought, but still a victory for Apple. Meanwhile, the jury rejected Samsung's patent-infringement claims against Apple. An appeal is expected.

For now, here's what the verdict means for consumers:

___

Q. Can I still buy a Samsung phone or today?

A. Yes. The jury didn't prohibit sales of the devices. However, Apple will ask a judge to ban U.S. sales of several Samsung devices. A Sept. 20 hearing has been scheduled. If the judge agrees, that would affect many Samsung devices, but not the most recent ones, such as the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note smartphones. Most of the two dozen devices covered by the lawsuit aren't sold in meaningful numbers in the U.S.

Q. Was Friday's verdict final?

A. No. Samsung is challenging it. First, Samsung will first ask the trial judge to toss the verdict. Then it will appeal to a court in Washington that specializes in patent appeals. Samsung has vowed to take the fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.

Q. If Apple still prevails, will this drive Samsung out of the ?

A. That's not likely. The verdict doesn't apply outside the U.S. and doesn't apply to the latest Samsung devices either. The $1 billion in damages represents 1.5 percent of .'s annual revenue.

Q. Will this make Samsung phones more expensive?

A. Possibly. Samsung may have to pay Apple substantial royalties on each phone. Consumers will likely pay for that somehow, but it may not be noticeable in stores. Phone companies such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless already subsidize each smartphone by hundreds of dollars to get retail prices down to $99 or $199.

Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S III phones are displayed at a mobilephone shop in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. After more than three weeks of trial in the U.S. and two days of deliberations, the nine-person jury said Friday that Samsung copied Apple's iPhone and iPad and ordered the South Korean firm to pay more than $1 billion in damages. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Q. What does this mean for the Samsung phone I already own?

A. This doesn't directly affect phones that have already been sold, even if they are the models that the judge decides to ban. In the long run, it could reduce enthusiasm around Android, the operating system from Google that Samsung uses in the devices in question. That might mean fewer applications for Android from outside parties. That will take years to play out, but could conceivably affect the resale value of your phone.

Q. Does this mean Samsung phones will look different in the future?

A. Possibly. The jury dinged Samsung's flagship Galaxy line for copying the overall look and feel of the iPhone and for using the stock icons with rounded corners that come with Android. Also at issue was the way Android can tell the difference between the touch of a single finger and several fingers. Samsung might delay some models to give it time to rework their look and feel.

Q. What does this mean for other Android phones, such as those from LG Electronics Inc., HTC Corp. and Google's Motorola Mobility?

A. Although the ruling applies only to Samsung, it will have an indirect effect on all makers of Android devices. Apple could go after them with arguments similar to the ones used against Samsung. But the ruling Friday is not precedential, meaning that other courts could reach completely different decisions.

Most likely, makers of Android phones will take more care to make their phones distinguishable from the iPhone.

It's also a standard tactic in patent cases to countersue. In this case, Samsung's patent claims against Apple were thrown out by the court. But Google has been buying up patents and could help other phone makers mount more effective countersuits.

Q. What does this mean for Android devices around the world?

A. The ruling applies only to the U.S., though Apple and Samsung are waging similar battles in other countries. On the same day Samsung lost in the U.S., it partially won a fight in South Korea. A Seoul court imposed a partial ban on South Korean sales of products from both companies. That verdict didn't affect the latest models either.

Q. What does this mean for Apple?

A. Analysts say it could help Apple gain market share at the expense of Android phones, if these have to avoid some attractive and easy-to-use features introduced by Apple.

Despite being a driving force in phone development since the iPhone was launched in 2007, Apple has only 19 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, according to IDC. The high price of the iPhone keeps it out of the reach of many consumers. Meanwhile, have 64 percent of the market.

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User comments : 15

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Grallen
4.5 / 5 (8) Aug 27, 2012
The supreme court would never support such a verdict... So basically all this case is doing it redirecting money to lawyers in the mean time.
Shifty0x88
4.6 / 5 (11) Aug 27, 2012
The supreme court would never support such a verdict... So basically all this case is doing it redirecting money to lawyers in the mean time.


That's is all that these patent lawsuits do, make lawyers rich and limit competition and innovation. Apple needs to get over themselves and make something that doesn't even use the patents they are fighting which will cause consumers to go towards them, instead they are directly fighting all manufacturers that make the "evil" Android phones.

Come on pinch-zoom is patentable, this is what is wrong with the patent system.

I'm sorry but if you couldn't tell a Samsung phone from an Apple phone then you have been living under a rock for the past 5 years.
El_Nose
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 27, 2012
the supreme court only gets involved in question of Constitutionality --- or if a law or judgement is legal in regard to the most basic law of the land.

Not sure if our Korean friends understand this -- Samsung that is.

How this is unconstitutional would be a very interesting or boring argument.
EverythingsJustATheory
4.5 / 5 (10) Aug 27, 2012
This is just bullshit. Apple pulls the same shit that everyone else does. Apple stole their GUI interface in the 80s from Xerox, and then Microsoft stole it from them.

What is really disheartening is that Apple propaganda has brainwashed this jury
ValeriaT
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 27, 2012
The supreme court would never support such a verdict... So basically all this case is doing it redirecting money to lawyers in the mean time.

And the customers will pay it with the increased price of products. Actually it's disputable, whether Apple didn't steal the design from Samsung instead. The black design of iPhone differs significantly from white design of all previous products of Apple. Maybe we would be quite surprised, if we would analyze all details of this story. From this reason I do perceive the "$1B" rather the result of USA protectionism. The American TelCo is getting nervous from expansion of East Asia mobile phone market for long time. Actually this victory may help the China in another flooding of market with iPhone clones - the Apple will be beaten with it like every IT company, which prohibited the production of clones in the past.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (2) Aug 27, 2012
Should the genome of living species be patentable? And what about another scientific findings?
hb_
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 28, 2012
@ValeriaT

You are right. Courts in the USA are notoriously biased towards US companies. Being an non-US entity and trying to defend a patent in the USA.. well, you'd have about the same chance as a snowball in Hell.

Of course, France is just as protectionist as the USA. The whole buisiness is just sad.. one would want neutral justice everywhere.
triplehelix
3.7 / 5 (9) Aug 28, 2012
Never going to buy an Apple product again. It's just turning into a monopoly now, without any choice. Or whatever choices are left are being sued into oblivion.

As shifty said, if you genuinely cant tell the difference between an android phone and a iphone then you've been living under a rock.

Eikka
not rated yet Aug 28, 2012
Apple stole their GUI interface in the 80s from Xerox, and then Microsoft stole it from them. What is really disheartening is that Apple propaganda has brainwashed this jury


And Apple propaganda has brainwashed You.

Microsoft had a lisence with Apple to use some UI elements, since Apple claimed to have the copyrights for things like overlapping and floating windows, and the trash can, and the overall look and feel of a windowed desktop user interface. That's why it's still called the recycle bin in Windows. Then when Microsoft began to be a real contender, Apple sued. The judges dismissed all claims as either invalid or non-copyrightable.

And since then Apple has been very careful to patent everything they steal.
R2Bacca
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 28, 2012
What a pathetically sad company Apple is.

I propose that software patents are tested by giving the device to a five-year-old. If they can figure out the feature that you are applying for a patent for without telling them about it ahead of time, then you don't get a patent. Certain things are just common sense.

CreepyD
5 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2012
Without things like Pinch to Zoom, how else are you going to zoom accurately in and out?
That's a basic essential function of any many many apps.
As for the 'Bounce Back' feature.. wtf?! Something so stupid and tiny 99% of people wouldn't even notice it.
I also notice that the Bounce Back feature disappeared when I upgraded to ICS (Android 4.0). It's been replaced by a glowing blue line that gets stronger as you try to move more off the edge - a nicer feel than Apple have. I hope Samsung or Android have patented that or we'll see it in the next iPhone..
xX_GT_Xx
4 / 5 (2) Aug 28, 2012
Without things like Pinch to Zoom, how else are you going to zoom accurately in and out?
That's a basic essential function of any many many apps.


It is now. It wasn't before. In another thread I used the steering wheel as an example. How else are you going to maintain the kind of precision you need to accurately control the direction of a car? Yet cars used to be steered with tillers. Took 10 years for auto makers to stop making cars with tillers. The point is that a lot of things become simple and obvious, after the fact.
xX_GT_Xx
5 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2012
I also notice that the Bounce Back feature disappeared when I upgraded to ICS (Android 4.0). It's been replaced by a glowing blue line that gets stronger as you try to move more off the edge - a nicer feel than Apple have.


Exactly! Same function as the bounce back, but it looks different. Tech companies that design consumer gizmos are very sensitive to the fact that the general public is not tech savvy. You'll never convince people that your gizmo is better because it has the new Quad-4-Unobtanium-Power processer in it, if it looks basically just like everyone else's gizmo. It has to look different.

Companies that want to be known for innovating make stuff look different from their competitor's stuff. Companies that want to hijack their competitor's cred make their stuff look the same, knowing that consumers will figure theirs is just as good.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2012
It is now. It wasn't before. In another thread I used the steering wheel as an example. How else are you going to maintain the kind of precision you need to accurately control the direction of a car? Yet cars used to be steered with tillers. Took 10 years for auto makers to stop making cars with tillers. The point is that a lot of things become simple and obvious, after the fact.


And ships were steered with wheels, and so were steam tractors which came before cars.

The invention was trivial, but the application wasn't, because the tiller steering was mechanically more straightforward to build than the rack-and-pinion system required for a wheel. The very first cars were motorized tricycles, so the choice was obvious - just extend the handlebars back and you get a tiller.
rwinners
5 / 5 (3) Aug 28, 2012
Consumers will get screwed, in the end. As always, we pay the price of all this legal bullshi!