Moving from disciple to masterSamsung Electronics was dealt a major loss in its patent battle with Apple after a California court jury recommended awarding the U.S. smartphone maker damages of $1.05 billion for infringements on patents for its iPhones and iPads. The same jury did not recommend Samsung receive any money regarding its counterclaim that Apple infringed on its utility patents. Samsung plans to challenge the ruling, so the judge’s final verdict may come out a little differently. However, it is evident that Samsung has suffered a crushing defeat that will likely have strong ramifications in the U.S. market, and the case could set a worrying precedent for its ongoing patent litigation with Apple in courts around the world.
The ruling by the federal jury in San Jose, California, near Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, has drawn criticism from industry experts for showing a lack of understanding and expertise on software and technology, as well as patent issues. The nine-person jury spent just two and a half days flipping through the complicated verdict forms, instructions and boxes of evidence to quickly declare a victory for the U.S. tech titan. We cannot question the integrity of a U.S. federal jury, but American industry’s interests may have played a part in the panel’s decision.
If Apple benefited from industrial protectionism amid the ongoing global economic slowdown, the ruling may end up damaging trade relations between the two countries. As such, any final decision on the case should take into account the perspectives of specialists in the industry, and be entirely free of any economic considerations.
Apple and Samsung are embroiled in over 30 patent-related suits in nine countries. Apple singled out Samsung, rather than Motorola or HTC, which both use the same Android software, because the Korean electronics company is the only other mobile phone maker that generates substantial profits and ranks as Apple’s major rival. As Samsung rises higher, it will likely face more challenges from its competitors.
What the case highlights is that originality is the key to survival in this cut-throat industry. Copying and clever upgrading are no longer viable, as companies become increasingly protective of their inventions and patent rights.
Samsung must reinvent itself as a first-mover, despite the huge risks involved in acting as a pioneer, if it hopes to beat the competition.