Apple vs. Samsung verdict: It doesn't matter

You really think that the jury finding Samsung guilty matters? Think again.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
Apple's big win may look impressive, but it will be appealed in days and then the battle will start all over again.

The jury in Apple vs. Samsung, doubtlessly eager to be out by the weekend, rushed their way through the approximately 26 pages and 55 questions of their instructions and decided that Samsung did indeed violate some of Apple's patents just over a billion bucks.

Impressive? Not really.

This is not the end. This verdict doesn't even matter in the long run. This was just another clash.

This case was going to be appealed, no matter who won, the second it started. This is just one more encounter on the case's way to the Supreme Court. Samsung has lost this skirmish, but not the war.

Let me refresh your memory. Apple started this by suing Samsung around the world. Samsung has replied in kind. Antarctica may be the only continent where the two aren't locked in battle. The U.S. District Court is just a single battlefield in a much greater war.

In those other battles, Apple and Samsung have both won and lost. South Korea's Seoul Central District Court may have the most representative result. It found both companies guilty.

True, in this one arena, Apple has won big... for now. But, besides being just a single conflict, Samsung's Android buddy, Google is busy asking the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban the import of iPhones, iPads, and Macs for patent violations . That too will end up in court after court after court.

This case really shows only one thing. The patent system, especially when it comes to software, is utterly and totally broken. While I tend to side with Samsung—come on Apple you really believe that your patenting the rectangle makes sense in any sane world?--the whole fouled up patent system is doing nothing but blocking innovation, raising end-user prices, and enriching no one except law firms.

I find myself agreeing whole-heartily with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, “Our patent system is intended to incentivize innovation, in theory at least. Lately it’s become little more than a tool to squelch competition, and it’s not just the Apples and the Samsungs of the world who find themselves fighting these battles. It’s also small and innovative companies, local governments, foreign companies trying to make it in America, hobbyists, and even individual developers. … Apple v. Samsung is not the problem in itself, but it’s a symptom of a broken system.”

Exactly so. In the end, all of us, anyone who buys any technology anywhere, will pay higher prices. And innovation, what the patent system was designed to encourage, will only suffer until this utterly messed up system is totally revised.

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