Apple v. Samsung verdict: What it means

Apple v. Samsung verdict: What it means

Summary: It was not a good day for Samsung in a U.S. federal court on Friday.


After hours and days of deliberations, the nine-person jury finally came to a verdict in Apple v. Samsung at the U.S. District Court of Northern California on Friday afternoon.

And did the jury come back with a victory for Apple, or what? It wasn't a complete landslide, but suffice to say, it was good enough.

The fact that the jury even came back with a verdict after two and a half days of deliberations (with no questions asked in open court) is quite astounding -- especially considering they had a 109 pages of instructions to sift through before even getting to the extremely detailed and complex verdict form.

That must have been a headache for the jury as they basically had to go through dozens of questions for each individual device listed in the case and identify which patents they violated or not. Perhaps the only reason the jury was able to return with a verdict so quickly on such a difficult case was because of the jury's background, which included two engineers and four people who worked for tech companies.

Both Samsung and Apple were out for financial restitution in this case, with Apple seeking up to $2.5 billion in damages.

But beyond just the money (it's not like Apple needs it), Apple was out to prove a point with this case, essentially defending its creative property while skewering the competition at the same time. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company did just that as the jury declared Apple's utility and design patents valid and that Apple wasn't in violation of any of Samsung's patents, sealing the deal for Apple's win in this lawsuit.

(Of course, more than $1 billion in damages just for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 alone makes Apple's big win look good too.)

Meanwhile, Samsung's countersuit, which was tied into this case with Apple's original lawsuit, was basically declared null and void.

It's an understatement to say that this will have repercussions throughout the smartphone and tablet industry -- all of which might not be evident or known yet.

But for starters, Samsung's portfolio and bottom line will be taking some big dents. As ZDNet's Larry Dignan wrote earlier this week, nearly a third of Samsung's value is tied to its smartphone business, while Apple pretty much relies entirely on iPhone and iPad sales now.

While some of the smartphones cited in the case are older and probably not even sold anymore, this will definitely have an effect on how Samsung products are designed and built in the future -- as well as devices made by other mobile OEMs.

Essentially, this major ruling in favor of Apple could instill a lot of fear in other mobile device manufacturers -- especially those designing for the Android ecosystem, which in turn would severely hurt Google.

Even though Android dominates the mobile operating system market, Apple already has the most popular smartphone and tablet on the market. Anyone wishing to compete is going to have to be extremely careful on how they design their products.

Then again, the after effects (with the exception of some stock price drops) might not be seen for awhile (if ever) as it is inevitable that Samsung will appeal.

To put this into another perspective, the battle between Apple and Samsung is actually much bigger than just this particular patent infringement lawsuit. For reference, ZDNet's Charlie Osborne has compiled a concise timeline dating back over a year, highlighting other court battles between these two in Germany and Australia, among elsewhere.

The U.S. case, which has played out in a federal courtroom in San Jose for the last several weeks, has garnered an incredible amount of attention worldwide -- especially thanks to some controversies surrounding confidential documents-turned-evidence, leaks to the press as well as connections to other tech giants such as IBM, Toshiba, and Microsoft.

Friday's verdict follows a stunning decision this morning stemming from a judicial court in Seoul, Korea, which ended up punishing both parties by banning devices from both Apple and Samsung.

Specifically, Apple reportedly has to stop selling the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 as well as the first and second-generation iPads in South Korea. Additionally, at least 12 Samsung mobile devices will be banned, including the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab.

But even though Apple has had some victories (and losses) around the world, none of them really match up to the impact that the U.S. case will have.

Topics: Legal, Android, Apple, Patents, Samsung

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • It means the Apple haters...

    ...will have to feel sorry for themselves this weekend.

    Now let Redmond spin spin...
    Cylon Centurion
    • If by Redmond you mean MS I would think they'd be very happy

      about this. Despite their royalties from Sammy et al I think androids a bigger threat to them than apple. Even in tablets long term
      Johnny Vegas
  • Hate to say I told you so... Well to be honest I kind of like it:)

    Yes..Yes there will be appeals, and spin and counter spin to last through the year and into next. I understand this. Samsung is a wealthy company as well so this will not destroy it by any means. Still it can't be argued that this was anything but good for Apple.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • at the same time, Samsungs best phones & tablets were found not to infringe

      The S3 isn't there on the list. The samsung Galaxy Tab - in the clear.
      But the ICS is pretty different to iphone, and it must be said, very cool.
      (and very customisable which is great).

      So Samsung's sales are at least 2:1 against apple in all markets, and their best products are in the clear from a court case close to Apple HQ.

      Samsung is at least double the size of apple as well, so I can't see this is so bad for them. the money - meh. but I think they'll go after the rerun on the basis of right/wrong. It was serious procedural breach by the judge not to admit samsung's prior art evidence.
      • I dont believe they were. I think they just havent been considered yet

        When they are I wouldn't be surprised if theres more money flowing from Sammy to apple
        Johnny Vegas
    • You're 100% correct James!!

      Where's Toddy Bottoms, he's the one who kept saying Apple was in trouble, and they would lose because a judge's court in another country had decided against Apple....

      And now a court, and a Fedral court at that has decided by jury in Apple's favor.....C'mon Toddy, no comments???
  • More important is... What to do with the judge Koh

    As groklaw says, Judge Koh may set some gound for Appeal:

    How funny is Galaxy Tab 10.1 has *NOT* been found infringed on iPad's design and patents and total against she ruling before. After all, she did posted a ban Galaxy Tab 10.1 and this deliberation is totally against her.

    Now I really want to see how Richard Posner to be the judge of Appeal.
    • Samsung had more than a year to include evidence in their case for this ...

      ... trial. Considering that nothing from their not-admitted evidence was new, it is obviously lawyer's trick to set-up basis for appeal. Appeal judge will see through this.
  • Now Jobs can be happy!

    Steve Jobs will be a happy person - wherever he is. He wanted to go nuclear on Android and Tim Cook took it to logical conclusion.
  • Whew! A billion bucks!

    That should make a nice downpayment on that new Apple campus in Cupertino, eh?
  • Too bad for Samsung....

    I like Apples products, but this case got me to look at Samsung phones and I like what I see, so much that I am not going to pickup an iPhone 5, but give my daughter my Phone 4 she covets and give the Samsung GS3 a try.

    • Lou

      I have heard others say the same thing you are and it is a little bewildering. Samsung copied Apple in such great detail that extended even to packaging. It was determined that this was a factor in Samsung's success by hijacking consumers that were headed towards for Apple products. This initial action by Samsung provided them with a tremendous boost in the touch phone and tablet market and hurt other manufactuerers almost as much as it hurt Apple. HTC has taken a beating because of this dirty business of Samsung.
  • Is Apple playing Monopoly?

    I have no issues with my iPhone, in fact it's the best $400 I ever spent. I just don't understand the line between protecting your property and monopolizing the market. When MS tries to put there foot down someone shoots them in the toe claiming "they are not giving us a fair chance" but when Apple does it everyone is like "hooray" Again, I love my phone and wish I could afford the rest of their products but are they not being a bit unfair to the competition, who in reality really is no competition at all.
    • There is no monopoly, so whole argument is made up

      The subject.
    • You get what you pay for

      Apple products are not over priced, you get what you pay for. The difference between MS and Apple is that even though they both have a army of employees and cash one puts out products that are meant to be used and the other puts out products that are the lowest common denominator. That is a management decision that will not change anytime soon.
  • Monopoly...

    American Hoist & Derrick Co. v. Sowa & Sons, Inc., 725 F.2d 1350, 1367 (Fed.Cir.)
    (“The patent system, which antedated the Sherman Act by a century, is not an ‘exception’ to the antitrust laws, and patent rights are not legal monopolies in the antitrust sense of that word.”), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 821, 105 S.Ct. 95, 83 L.Ed.2d 41 (1984); Panduit Corp. v. Stahlin Bros. Fibre Works, Inc., 575 F.2d 1152, 1160 n. 8 (6th Cir.1978) (“The loose application of the pejorative term ‘monopoly,’ to the property right of exclusion represented by a patent, can be misleading. Unchecked it can destroy the constitutional and statutory scheme reflected in the patent system.”).

    Written by Gene Quinn
    President & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
    Patent Attorney, Reg. No. 44,294
    Posted: March 6, 2010 @ 12:39 pm
    Tony Burzio
    • Good comment Tony

      The heated running commentary in these pages about Apple having a 'monopoly' should be taken to task more often. Patents provide an exclusionary position for the patent holder. This was included in our founding documents (USA) so that creative and innovative individuals (corporations are people too) may reap a secure and exclusive benefit from that innovation. Using 'monopoly' as a pejorative is incorrect. Microsoft has a technical 'monopoly' in PC OSs (and likely in the Office suite) but it has only been taken to task when it has used its monopoly position in a nefarious manner to squelch and destroy competition and other innovations in that field. Being a monopoly is not against the law. Using your monopoly to destroy the competition is.
      Does Apple have a monopoly in smartphones? Not by a long shot.
      Does Apple have a monopoly in tablets? This is a closer call with the market share that Apple currently holds, but still not legally a monopoly. Even in the case of the iPad (tablets existed before and many after its introduction) how has Apple used its position to destroy its competition? It simply hasn't. In protecting Apple's patents in both devices the effort has been focused and in courts of law, not in the marketplace as Microsoft chose to do back in the '90's.
      Apple has not attained its current market status through any means other than innovation, marketing, and customer loyalty. Suing people who copy what you've poured time and treasure into creating is what patent law is made. Samsung stole Apple's intellectual property. Apple has had its days in court.
      The net result of the Apple Samsung legal miasma will be that Samsung quits stealing. In my opinion, that's worth a billion here and there to Apple.
      • Corruption makes us all poor

        It's true that Apple doesn't currently have a monopoly. But that is exactly what they are trying to achieve - destroy the competition by having their products removed from shelves. That, some might argue, is precisely the right thing to do in a competitive market: win by any means possible. The law is there to regulate behavior and keep it (fairly) civilized, but the responsibility of the company is to WIN..

        Unfortunately the patent system has become a farce. Instead of being used solely to grant a level of protection, allowing a period where the holder can recoup the investment made in a genuine invention, patents are granted on the most ridiculous, trivial "ideas" ("slide to unlock", "rounded rectangle") which are blatantly, clearly, obviously NOT inventions or innovation, but in a CORRUPT system are granted as such.

        I know some people can argue all night that the moon is made of green cheese, but in the end, such twisting of patent laws cheapens the human race and robs society of true innovation and advancement. We ALL lose. Yes, even those who profit financially in the short term. The spirit of the patent system is fine; but the corruption of that spirit with STUPID patents is NOT.

        Apple shook up the world when they released the original iPhone. Much (if not all) of it had been seen before in some form or another, but Apple put it together and packaged it in a beautiful and utterly usable device.

        They did pretty much the same thing with the iPad - and I am astounded and appalled that all the great technology companies around the world have been unable to make a worthy competitor (I admit to not keeping up with the bleeding-edge, so it's possible there IS such a device). Again, I acknowledge that there are people who can argue for this or that tablet and why it deserves a shot at the title, but......there is only one king.

        The problem comes when the corrupt patent system gives Apple the monopoly it doesn't deserve. We, the consumers, are doomed to products with purposely limited features - where each iteration of the device is always less than what it could (should?) be. It allows them to sit on their assets, whilst the competition is legally prevented from innovating and driving technology (and quality of life for us all) forward.

        Shame on the corrupt patent system. Shame on those who argue for it. Shame on Apple for cheapening themselves with their claims to stupid patents.
        • Corruption of Patents

          Innovation is not a patentable event. Of course real patents should provide the inventor with protection so that he can recover costs and benefit from the invention. But how does the rounded edge of a button on a screen become patentable??? Patent law has drifted a long ways from its original intent. As for Apple, their products are innovative and useful. I have an Ipod and it is a very attractive device. Of course, I missed the boat and now we have IOS in the newer Apple products and my unit can't be upgraded. Of course i can spend the full price for a new Ipod.
          At least Microsoft when they upgrade a product, gives existing users an upgrade path at an attractive price.
          • Patents and Innovation

            Innovation comes from the hungry. Innovation comes from those who want to lower their costs.

            Innovation can come from those who are curious and are following the muse called knowledge. (I have relatives in academia and so I reject that it is only, I repeat only, the possibility of wealth which drives research, development, and progress. Never underestimate the attraction of an interesting problem.)

            Patents are for those who want to cash in on a good bit of work. They look backwards, not forwards. At least the honest patents do; we certainly have a fair amount of think-piece patents where the current holder (sometimes a successor to the thinker) waits for the engineers to catch up to the concept and then skims off of others' work.

            The world is what it is. Those that have it are using all within their power to make sure they get to keep it, even to the point of stifling new ideas and products. Did you see that Honeywell brought a suit against the makers of that smart thermostat?

            Some days I despair that the smart ones think that making something is for chumps and the real action is in collecting rents and licenses and having funds to manage.

            At least one positive thing about this trial, both Samsung and Apple want to succeed by making things we want to buy.