"Appleflation": Apple's Anti-Android Win Could Limit Consumer Choice
August 27, 2012 11:30 AM
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(Source: Tech Digest)
Samsung lost an estimated $12B USD in worth from the decision
The weekend has passed, but the shock is still setting in after a potentially precedent setting
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
, which left Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) on the hook for approximately $1.05B USD and facing at least temporary bans on most of its product lineup.
I. "Appleflation"? Cupertino Company's Win Stirs Controversy
Apple, Inc. (
quick to gloat
about the victory, whose foundation certainly had some controversial aspects -- such as Apple's ability to
(pinch to zoom) in the context of
multi-touch, Apple's ability to (essentially)
patent the animation of natural phenomena
(the rubber-band animation is a textbook visualization of nature's transient response e.g. see spring), and Apple's ability to "patent a shape" (Apple's attorneys argued that its design patents offered an exclusive right to make
rectangular smartphones with rounded edges
Thus in the aftermath of the trial, much of the controversy has focused not on whether the jury made the right decision, but whether the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
was crippling the free market with its lacking scrutiny.
Tech mogul Mark Cuban (also a prominent venture capitalist featured on the show
) blasted Apple's decision in a series of Twitter posts,
. He implies that he is going to boycott Apple's products as a result of the lawsuit, and accuses Apple of conspiring to raise prices for electronics customers a term he calls "Appleflation":
[Image Source: Twitter/Neowin]
[Image Source: Twitter]
Google, Inc. (
) makers of the Android operating system also chimed in, writing that the claims in the case "don't relate to the core Android operating system",
The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims. Most of these don't relate to the core Android operating system, and several are being re-examined by the US Patent Office. The mobile industry is moving fast and all players — including newcomers — are building upon ideas that have been around for decades. We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don't want anything to limit that.
While that may sound like Google is throwing Samsung to the wolves, Google is aiming to offer Samsung and other Android OEMs powerful long-term protection, by filing a major new suit against Apple, which seeks to
ban almost Apple's entire product lineup
II. What's Next? Bans, Appeals, Appear Likely
reports that after the ruling South Korea's markets had a wild day of trading, with 1.27 million shares of Samsung stock changing hands, and the company facing its worst single-day value loss in nearly four years. Overall, Samsung shed $12B USD of its $160B USD valuation. Apple, meanwhile added approximately $12B USD to its market cap this morning, reaching $634B USD, and creeping ever closer to Microsoft Corp.'s (
record 1998 valuation
, which adjusted for inflation totals around $850B USD.
The verdict cost Samsung $12B USD in value. [Image Source:
In a statement to
Dow Jones NewsWires
, Samsung complained that the ruling would limit consumer choice, writing:
We will move immediately to file post-verdict motions to overturn this decision in this court and if we are not successful, we will appeal this decision to the Court of Appeals
It is 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.
In other words, Samsung will first try to sway
Judge Lucy Koh
to reduce the infringement and damages in the trial verdict stage. The jury's ruling is only guidance for the judge's verdict/sentencing in this kind of civil case, although it usually closely resembles the final ruling.
If it cannot sway Judge Koh, it will begrudgingly move up the food chain with its appeal, while it continues to challenge the validity of Apple's broad patents in complaints to the USPTO.
A memo to employees from Samsung's management highlights how the U.S. ruling was much more punitive than rulings in other countries, who largely rejected Apple's design claims (Germany is the only other region to embrace Apple's design claims). Samsung writes:
We initially proposed to negotiate with Apple instead of going to court, as they had been one of our most important customers. However, Apple pressed on with a lawsuit, and we have had little choice but to counter-sue, so that we can protect our company.
The NDCA verdict starkly contrasts decisions made by courts in a number of other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, and Korea, which have previously ruled that we did not copy Apple’s designs. These courts also recognized our arguments concerning our standards patents.
The Korea Times
a senior Samsung Electronics executive as saying; "It’s absolutely the worst scenario for us."
A South Korean patent lawyer involved in the case asserted, "Judge Lucy Koh will make the final ruling in the next few weeks. Samsung will try best to persuade Koh that we didn’t willfully infringe on Apple’s design patents. Samsung, however, is ready to bring the issue to the Supreme Court as the verdict was based on protectionism."
But a Samsung executive appeared more aware of the likely grim reality, remarking, "As far as I know, it’s very rare for the presiding judge to make a decision going against the verdict by jurors."
Thus Samsung's next move is to move the matter to an appeals court, and (likely) to work on emergency software patches to remove features like tap/pinch to zoom and new body designs, to escape product bans.
Unless the Samsung Galaxy S III escapes an ITC ban, Samsung's entire lineup may be temporarily forbidden from sale on the U.S. market.
Apple's next move will be to push for speedy product bans. It will also likely seek to pressure the
U.S. International Trade Commission
ban the Galaxy S III
, not involved in the case, pointing that it has similar features as Samsung's infringing lineup (e.g. pinch to zoom). If Apple can ban the Galaxy S III, it may be able to achieve the unthinkable -- secure a complete ban on the products of America's current top smartphone seller.
Mark Cuban on Twitter
Google via The Verge
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
8/27/2012 12:25:35 PM
Nobody (except biased nerds like you or idiotic media trolls) ever reduced it to simply being "a rectangle with rounded corners". The claim was actually the overall look and feel of the end product, including the packaging and presentation.
"Look and Feel" in these cases is nothing new.
The rounded corners thing was picked up on by idiots like yourself. Yes it mentions this in the court documents but you also have to read a lot deeper as to what this was actually about.
8/27/2012 4:14:35 PM
"Rectangle with rounded corners" refers to the design patents Samsung was found to infringe upon. You can read through them really quickly (they're just pictures and a list of references). They actually don't look very much like any of the Samsung phones, so the only way one could construe Samsung to be infringing is if one interpreted the patents to be on any design of a flat rectangle with rounded corners.
Samsung was found not to be infringing on the similar patent for the iPad. Apparently the jury agreed sufficient prior art (Star Trek, Knight-Ridder) existed to invalidate the patent. Samsung was barred from introducing similar prior art for phones (namely, its internal designs for phone prototypes it was working on before the iPhone was released) due to a technicality (missed a court filing deadline).
And no it was not an overall look and feel case. Each individual element, each patent, was individually examined in detail and determined to be infringing or not infringing. There was no "overall look and feel" infringement. That's a cognitive dissonance fabrication of the folks who wanted Apple to win but were honest enough to admit that these individual patents were too basic and obvious to be patented.
8/27/2012 4:45:09 PM
Can you patent something so intangible as "look and feel"? (Not saying there is no protection, e.g. Copyright.)
The 5 requirements of patentability are discuseed here:
In Diamond v. Chakravarty the Supreme court said the scope of patentability should be broad but also held "abstract ideas are not patentable."
So, is "look and feel" an abstract idea and consequently not subject to patent protection?
"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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