We hedged our bets with Apple at ColdplaySucks.com, not because of some fan-boy obsession but because we were guessing that Apple would win this modern-day Goliath vs David given the technologies and patents that were being infringed.
Earlier this week the jury in the case between Apple and Samsung in the United States revealed their decision. This could result in Samsung paying around $1 billion (that's billion, not Bitcoins ;-) in damages to Apple (unless additional litigation changes these figures) I have been a long believer that certain Samsung devices have been designed to duplicate the features in iOS, and this verdict confirms this belief.
First let me touch on why this sort of infringement is harmful to us as consumers and citizens in general. The purpose of a patent is to protect the consumer in the end, I know it seems like this only helps corporations but let me explain.
Patents are very important. By protecting a design with a patent, the inventor gets what are called "exclusive rights" for a limited time, and in exchange they reveal the inner workings of the invention to the public. This allows innovation to take place after the exclusive rights are over, and by showing other inventors how the invention works, they are able to build upon the device, improve it and re-patent their improved invention. This rewards innovation and this has made the world quite fantastic in the 20th and 21st century (see: Internet).
Generally the exclusive right is given to allow the individual or company to prevent others from using, making, distributing or selling the patented invention without permission. Apple apparently approached Samsung to offer them a license for some of these infringement cases which would have given Samsung permission to include the features.
The patents that were infringed upon could have all used an update. Samsung seems to be guilty of lazy engineering. Here is a quick rundown of the patent claims and how the jury found in each case:
Tap to zoom feature. The Gem, Captivate, Indulge, Intercept, Nexus 4G, Continuum and Vibrant were not infringing while the jury found that the Epic 4G, Epic 4G, Exhibit 4G, Droid Charge, Fascinate, Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Prevail, Galaxy S II, Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Infuse 4G, Mesmerize and Replenish did in fact copy the tap to zoom method which Apple invented and holds a patent on.
So really Samsung engineers, you weren't creative enough to figure out how to improve a simple tap to zoom?! How about this:a "drag left for zoom out right for zoom in" or any other context sensitive improvement? This would have improved the marketplace while freeing your company from paying any dues to 1 Infinite Loop (Apple headquarters in California).
No, you do not get to use the simple intuitive gesture, thats how patents work. People that want simple gestures buy the iPhone while Samsung is able to be the innovator and give users new features . . . in that case maybe Apple would be copying the Galaxy, then again probably not.
Fair game on this one Samsung.
This patent covers the image bounce feature that is engaged when your finger scrolls past the edge of an object, image, webpages etc. All of Samsung's devices were found to infringe this patent and I'm not sure if this is a good patent to even copy.
It looks cool, but is it useful? It's useful for getting a patent infringement lawsuit, that's for sure. Would a company not want to have a differentiated product? I would not be opposed to having a phone that has a no bounce iOS, its a bit distracting. but maybe I'm a minority. I can imagine that a "squish" or similar animation would be too taxing to have on a phone, but that only means an expert hasn't tried to implement it on a phone yet.
More missed innovation.
All devices (minus the Replenish and Intercept) were found to be infringing on the one finger scroll and two finger pinch to zoom gesture.
This patent covers the design (iPhone) and the jury found that the Galaxy Ace did not infringe while the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, Galaxy S 4G, Epic 4G touch, Mesmerize, Skyrocket, Fascinate, Showcase, Infuse 4G and Vibrant are infringing.
This patent covers the design also. The jury found that the Galaxy S, Galaxy S 4G and Vibrant are infringing. The Galaxy S II, Epic 4G Touch, Skyrocket and Infuse 4G are not.
This patent is a patent for the iPhone's initial homescreen appearance. The jury found that the Captivate, Continuum, Droid Charge, Epic 4G,
Fascinate, Galaxy S, Galaxy S 4G, Showcase, Gem, Indulge, Infuse 4G, Mesmerize and Vibrant copy the iPhone.
This patent relates to industrial design. The jury found that none of Samsung's tablet devices are infringing.
Samsung patents 914, 711, 893, 460, and 516
The jury found that Apple did not infringe any of Samsung's patents. Probably because Apple already had patents for the technology pre-existing.
Samsung must have some really bad or really over-confident patent lawyers.
Sherman antitrust law
The jury found Samsung violated the antitrust law by monopolizing regarding the UMTS protocol
If you were going to copy so many Apple patents I'm sure they would have given a sweet deal to license it all, otherwise your responsibility is to innovate the shit out of mobile phone technology. Samsung lost today, but in the long term consumers win because new Samsung technologies do not infringe. They have the capability to be better now that they aren't identical to some technologies already existing.
Most of the devices covered by this ruling are quite old already anyhow so the financial impact of this ruling is probably a lot less than the way the stock market has reacted.