Apple patent win may reshape sector, slow Google

Android devices account for more than half of the US smartphone market
A Samsung Galaxy S mobile phone (right) and Apple iPhone 3G, shown at a shop in Seoul in 2010. Apple's decisive victory in a landmark US patent case against Samsung could reshape the hot sector for mobile devices and slow the momentum of Google and its Android system, analysts say.

Apple's decisive victory in a landmark US patent case against Samsung could reshape the hot sector for mobile devices and slow the momentum of Google and its Android system, analysts say.

Apple won more than $1 billion in the case Friday, after a California jury found the South Korean electronics giant infringed on dozens of patents held by the and iPad maker.

Although Google was not a party in the case, it makes the operating system which was central to the case—a system which Apple's late co-founder called a "stolen" product.

Apple has been battling as Samsung and other manufacturers of the free Android system eat away at its in the sizzling market for smartphones and .

"I think this will force a reset on Android products as they are reengineered to get around Apple's patents," said , a and consultant with the Enderle Group.

But Enderle said other companies may benefit from the decision, including Microsoft, which has been lagging in the mobile sector, and Blackberry maker , which has been hit hardest by the rise of Android devices.

The court ruling, said Enderle, "should provide a stronger opportunity for both of Microsoft's new platforms—Windows 8 and 8—because they come with indemnification against Apple, suddenly making them far safer and possibly a faster way to get product to market."

The decision also "will make RIM far more attractive as an acquisition because RIM's patents are thought to be strong enough to hold off Apple," Enderle said.

"Both Samsung and Google may make a play for the company, and both Microsoft and Apple may move to block them."

Battle of the smartphones
Graphic showing market share for smartphones in Q2 2012, led by Samsung with 32.6 percent share and followed by Apple with 16.9 percent.

In recent months, Android devices have grabbed more than 50 percent of the US smartphone market to around 30 percent for Apple, while RIM's shares have slid to around 12 percent.

The patents at play include software such as the "bounceback" feature for users when scrolling and pinch-zooming, which are featured on Android devices.

Florian Mueller, a consultant who follows patent and copyright issues, said Friday's court ruling was "a huge breakthrough."

"The jury essentially concluded that Samsung is a reckless copycat and, since some of the infringement is Google's responsibility, basically agreed with Steve Jobs's claim that Android is a stolen product," he wrote on his blog.

Still, a lot hinges on what happens next in court, with the case likely to be tied up in appeal for some time.

Judge Lucy Koh set a September 20 hearing where she will consider whether to overturn or modify the jury verdict, whether to impose "punitive" damages which would triple the award and whether to issue injunctions against Samsung.

A critical factor will be whether Apple will be able to obtain a permanent injunction, or halt in sales on infringing Samsung devices, and whether this would be enforced during the appeal.

Dennis Crouch, a University of Missouri patent law specialist, said the judge will have broad discretion.

"Some courts have issued broad injunctions that essentially say 'stop infringing the patent,' others issue much more narrow orders directed only toward the particular products that are adjudged to infringe," Crouch said on his blog.

"The reality is that Samsung has been planning for the likelihood of injunctive relief and is surely ready to stop selling any of the infringing products and replace those products with ones that at least have not yet been adjudged as infringing."

This could lead to more legal battles, since Apple has another lawsuit pending on Samsung's newer handheld devices.

Samsung has pledged to keep fighting the case, and said that if it stands "it will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices."

Samsung called it "unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies."

Analysts say that aside from Samsung, Google could be the big loser, especially if Apple pursues its litigation against other manufacturers.

" cannot stop . It is now on the run and will have to scramble to make software changes to Android," Mueller said.

"In a few years, the San Jose jury verdict may—I repeat, MAY—be remembered as the tipping point that sent Android on a downward spiral."

Explore further

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(c) 2012 AFP

Citation: Apple patent win may reshape sector, slow Google (2012, August 25) retrieved 22 October 2019 from
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User comments

Aug 25, 2012
Does the word monopoly come to anyone's mind excepting the board game?

Aug 25, 2012
"Google cannot stop Apple. It is now on the run and will have to scramble to make software changes to Android," Mueller said.

Really? Google has patents too and is quite capable of defending itself. Motorola's patent portfolio alone is formidable. [Google recently acquired Motorola.]

Aug 26, 2012
Patent law is a joke. We need to fire all these bureaucrats that are calling these simple products patentable. Out with the Obama administration. People should be free to be creative and also hide what they are doing from the government. The problem is that this jury and judge was from CA and inherently biased in Apples favor. Why didn't they get a jury from Khazakstan to decide this? Patent law, if anything is supposed to protect those who invested significan wealth into a non-obvious (to an expert in the field) discovery. I've heard nothing about how Apple's patents were for anything that meets that criteria. It seems it is all a political game to keep USPTO bureaucrats, lawyers, and other insider type political hacks in the money. It is sociopolitical and not factual. American consumers are being enslaved by their own government and a bunch of corporate lawyers. When these people are dumped, the public will be way better off. They are helping themselves, not the public.

Aug 26, 2012
Last September, US Patent law changed from "first to invent" to "first to file", so now patent trolls can hunt down good IP that isn't patented, and take over ownership merely by filing a patent first. It has proven hugely demoralizing to the software industry. It could have similar effect in the energy industry, especially open source, because because

nearly everything they do is new;
the patent process is expensive and painful;
the thought of having to patent everything they write is overwhelming, both from the point of view of time, as well as the point of view of expense;
and even if they did try to patent all the key things they do, they might overlook some permutation.

Aug 26, 2012
Patent law "first to file" is a joke. Tomorrow I will file a patent for the wheel and sue everybody.

Aug 26, 2012
Patent law "first to file" is a joke
It's the Americans, who allow the acceptation of such a laws and who are responsible for it. Such a law apparently serves to lawyers and patent office lobby only.

Aug 26, 2012
If this had been a Korean ruling in favor of Samsung I would have called it "faul"! But not now, knowing that the US Legal System is far more objective and just.

Yeah, right...

Aug 26, 2012
I would just like to say that double standards aren't nice:
"Design genius" Jonathan Ive!

Aug 26, 2012
Classic reverse-mercantilism encroaching into the corporatist US government.

Aug 27, 2012
Patent law "first to file" is a joke - NONSENSE

Whether the "first-to-file" nor "first-to-invent" approach have something to do with the ruling.
In both cases the patent office has to check if a filed patent fulfills the definition of an invention.

Especially in the US it was too easy to receive a granted patent for very obvious "inventions" like some Apple inventions, a square with rounded corners…

The ruling is simply economic. Protect an US company for any price.
The result was clear when the trial started.

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