News24

Apple patent win may reshape sector

2012-08-25 23:04

Washington - 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 $1bn in the case Friday, after a California jury found the South Korean electronics giant infringed on dozens of patents held by the iPhone and iPad maker.

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

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

"I think this will force a reset on Android products as they are re-engineered to get around Apple's patents," said Rob Enderle, a technology analyst 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 Research in Motion, which has been hit hardest by the rise of Android devices.

Huge breakthrough


The court ruling, said Enderle, "should provide a stronger opportunity for both of Microsoft's new platforms - Windows 8 and Windows Phone 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."

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

The patents at play include software such as the "bounceback" feature for smartphone 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".

'Reckless copycat'

"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.

Monopoly


"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.

"Google cannot stop Apple. 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."

Comments
  • rlong1952 - 2012-08-26 00:50

    I live and work in Seoul and I will set out here what I wrote on a local blog: I had a chat to several of my Korean friends last night about this whole saga (they are pretty traditional and loyal Koreans) and I took a neutral stance on the whole deal and asked what they and in general Koreans thought about the outcome. I was a little surprised by their answer, expecting a huge Samsung defence, but they said, 'Oh all Koreans knew that Samsung would lose, Korea always copies things, so no surprise to us' They then went on to say it is necessary for Samsung (and Koreans in general) to copy because then they could go on and improve the product they copied. I must admit I didn't really know what to say to them. I have noticed the copying thing here, especially with cars. There are many Korean cars running around that are clones of some European cars that appeared on the market some years back. China, of course, is way more guilty of copying, but that is another story. I asked them if they thought Samsung should have been fined and they all agreed it was ok, a price to pay for the future. Oh well..........

      malcolm.macleod.562 - 2012-08-26 09:52

      "They then went on to say it is necessary for Samsung (and Koreans in general) to copy because then they could go on and improve the product they copied." - Which is exactly what Apple did as well, anyone who thinks otherwise is ignorant and a giant hypocrite, the issue here is not whether there was any 'copying' or not but rather why Apple think they should be the only ones who can do this.

      dexter.morganson - 2012-08-26 11:55

      Correct Malcolm... America has a long history of stealing ideas from others and using it as their own. They did it after WW1 and WW2, they've done it ever since. Hell, they do it even with something as simple as French Fries - Liberty Fries. 3M was built on stolen patents from Europe during the war years. Apple got into the computer field by stolen patents and ideas. They are probably the biggest original thieves of patents and now they want to sue because someone else is using their business tactics(Stealing patent ideas)...? Name me one thing that is still made by an original patent holder. From airplanes to cars, from computers to mp3 players...they are made by many different companies but originally only one person held the intellectual property rights for it. Apple's concern is, Samsung just made it a whole lot better.

      omo.naija.750 - 2012-08-26 17:24

      @dexter.morganson said: "Apple's concern is, Samsung just made it a whole lot better." ............................................................ Dexter ,i believe you hit the nail on the head and out the other side.I will never buy an apple product because i dislike how cocky apple is and how their products are over hyped as well as ridiculously overpriced. I mean why pay almost 30 Grand for an Apple mac which has a restrictive os that you can hardly find compatible programs for when i can build a custom monster PC running window 7 ultimate for 60% less? It is practically a no brainer.

      lydonmcg - 2012-08-27 07:32

      "Apple's concern is, Samsung just made it a whole lot better." Says who? I feel absolutely no desire to get any Samsung phone. Design-wise, I personally feel they still pale in comparison to Apple products. Android is also - in my opinion - rather ugly and fragmented, so in terms of software there's nothing to write home about either. Which leaves the internal hardware. That is where Samsung have managed to trump Apple, but by the same token, to what point? What use is a fast multi-core processor going to be to someone who uses their phone to use social media, take photos and message people? If we are to acknowledge a company for taking something and making it better, I think the crown should go to Microsoft. They've proven what it is Apple is arguing - you can design something that performs the same actions as another device without copying said other devices means of doing those actions.

      paul.nefdt - 2012-08-27 16:34

      Look, the whole copying thing is a tried and trusted branding exercise for the Koreans, like the Korean people said first they copy then they improve.. The damage is done & all Apple could do was defend the US market by suing Samsung. Like I said on another chat, 'the whole world knows Samsung makes a copy of the Apple' if Apple offered their product at a better price Samsung would not have had so much success.. So Apple only have themselves to blame.. To all Apple fanatics, go ahead & enjoy your expensive choice.. after all its YOUR MONEY & you probably earned it (or inherited it).. To all Samsung & cash strapped consumers, go ahead & enjoy the same service performance & less sneering you get from alternative Apple products, after all it's YOUR MONEY (or the banks).. lol

  • jack.russel.14268769 - 2012-08-26 00:54

    An American company with an American Jury with an American product then add American stupidity, You end up with an undeserved $1 Billion

      reg.woolston.1 - 2012-08-26 01:53

      A simplistic answer by, as your name implies, a heel biter. Now go and bite something you actually understand.

      rlong1952 - 2012-08-26 06:58

      Really JR is that the best you could come up with...ignorant comment.

      David Vardy - 2012-08-26 08:43

      Absolutely right. Korean court found both parties had infringed. Awarded $22K to Apple and $35K to Samsung. Also ordered withdrawal from market of all affected devices.

  • Billy - 2012-08-26 06:23

    ok, so sell phones with no OS on it and let ppl just load Android themselves. better than being forced to use overpriced hardware with a linux OS on it.. lol the words biggest scam.

      rlong1952 - 2012-08-26 06:56

      Billy, sounds like sour grapes to me, do you wish you had an iPhone? Apple OS on iPhone is FREE, as are all upgrades. What makes it so superior to Android (I have IOS and Android, by the way)is that updates go right across the spectrum of iPhones (from the the 3 to the 4S), Android updates are cut after about a year on your phone, so if you have a phone that is older than one year, you will not be able to download the latest Android OS and that sucks

      rlong1952 - 2012-08-26 10:35

      Ha ha, all the thumbs down for stating facts, nothing emotional or biased, just facts about IOS and Android.

      kyle.berry.90857 - 2012-08-26 11:20

      apple is expensive... why keep the technology from the masses?

      mattewis.kat - 2012-08-26 13:39

      @Saffa Well, perhaps you are happy with a company that will only sell certain applications to you if you live at the "correct address", but I certainly am not! Especially if I have to pay premium $$$ for hardware that presents no competitive edge! Possibly if Apple spent more time innovating and less in court, they could have been competitive! Let's face it, a SA-citizen must be stupid to pay more for an Apple device than a USA-citizen does, and then be denied access to a portion of the apps because they aren't US-citizens in the first place! The most premium of Android handsets sell for at least R100 p/m less than an iPhone on a contract in SA. WhyTF would I want to pay at least R2400 on a 24-month contract, and then still have to purchase hugely expensive "special cables" for interfacing to the outside world? Maybe it's just me seeing "facts" in a different light?

      rlong1952 - 2012-08-26 14:41

      Mattewis.... I am registered in SA though I don't live there, I have NEVER paid for an app, most of them are free, it is only some that you pay for but most of us normal guys don't need those apps anyway. I have got all I need for free and even if I had to buy some they are a couple of bucks, hardly will break the bank.

      Billy - 2012-08-30 02:00

      lol forgot about this comment. you are such an apple fanboy. i see you defending apple in all your posts haha no life

  • ian.flack2 - 2012-08-26 07:39

    Apple stole its MAC idea (mulitple processors) from Commodore, particularly the AMIGA computer..............

      raath - 2012-08-27 06:47

      Maybe Commodore should take Apple to court... oh wait...

      Billy - 2012-08-30 02:01

      xerox should sue everyone for using the mouse...

  • lekkeperd.chevyss - 2012-08-26 12:41

    Apple owner for life!!!

  • sanesh.allopi - 2012-08-26 15:45

    I understand the IP laws, but I also think that Apple is going too far. If the common man supports this ruling, but complains about the cost of phones and PCs, he should really just shut up because he is supporting it. Patent laws do not always apply common sense. If Samsung can get u an equivalent product cheaper, good for them. (BTW : I have 3 Apple devices in my home).

  • jean.rossouwsa - 2012-08-26 19:53

    Then I have a Samsung iphone s3 that is better that apples own product.

  • jason.dutoit - 2012-08-26 20:48

    lg prada dieter rams and braun's 1960's designs ios 5 and its b;atant rip-off of android xerox parc ... the list goes on

  • paul.nefdt - 2012-08-27 16:32

    Look, the whole copying thing is a tried and trusted branding exercise for the Koreans, like the Korean people said first they copy then they improve.. The damage is done & all Apple could do was defend the US market by suing Samsung. Like I said on another chat, 'the whole world knows Samsung makes a copy of the Apple' if Apple offered their product at a better price Samsung would not have had so much success.. So Apple only have themselves to blame.. To all Apple fanatics, go ahead & enjoy your expensive choice.. after all its YOUR MONEY & you probably earned it (or inherited it).. To all Samsung & cash strapped consumers, go ahead & enjoy the same service performance & less sneering you get from alternative Apple products, after all it's YOUR MONEY (or the banks).. lol

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