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The Game Changer !

Thanks to Karn Jani for this insightful guest post on current Apple vs Samsung patent battle where Samsung is fined $1 billion for what they say “monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners.” and a “win for Apple, but a loss for the American consumer.” which will result in “fewer choices, less innovation and potentially higher prices.” (quotes taken from Samsung's official response to the verdict).

“Yato Dharma, Tato Jaya” – the Holy Bhagwat Gita, (If we are righteous, then victory will be ours)

Apple and Samsung

Founders Steve Jobs and Steve Woznaik, also known as “the two Steves”, introduced their first computer, Apple I, in 1976. Since then Apple has grown to become a trendsetter in technology and computer software industry. From the beginning, Apple has followed a policy of keeping its innovations and products away from any interference from ‘outsiders’. Jobs believed in closely guarded technological ideas for the benefit of the company. But when it introduced the ‘game changer’ iPhone there was a constant demand for allowing accessibility and adaptability in it. So finally Apple introduced the App Store wherein third party applications were allowed to be accessed and downloaded on the phone or computers. Steve Jobs had made his intentions very clear with regard to Apple’s patented technology when he asserted a “thermonuclear war” on his competitors, specifically Samsung, in his biography “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson.

Samsung’s story is a fairytale mixed with hard work and a great vision of its founder Mr.Lee Byung Chull. From noodles and woolen mills to LCD televisions and memory chips, Samsung has been there and done it all. And after the telecom industry showed promise it jumped in it too. Rest all is history. Today it is South Korea’s largest company and one of Asia’s biggest consumer electronics company. After it tied up with Google’s Android platform, Samsung never looked back. It became the biggest seller of mobile phones in 2012 and widened its lead over Apple to become the biggest producer of smartphones. But then, what made Samsung copy Apple’s patents? Or did they?

Apple versus Samsung

In another case, Judge Browning tried to maintain a neutral stand when he opined that “the guiding consideration in drawing the line is the preservation of the balance between competition and protection reflected in the patent and copyright laws.” (Herbert Rosenthal Jewelry Corp. v. Kalpakian, 446 F.2d 738 (9th Cir. 1971)) Competition is the driving force behind investing more in innovation. And the need-based traditional approach seems to lack the punch against the aggressive end-user targeted futuristic approach applied by MNCs now.
Lately, we have read a lot about Apple and Samsung in media. But not for their market value or innovations or product launches. Instead both these giants have come face to face in courtrooms and commissions across the globe. Be it in American courts or European or Australian and also the International Trade Commission (ITC). And it can be said that Apple got the first big victory last week when a California Court ruled in its favor a few of its ‘curved corners’ and ‘pinch-to-zoom’ designs and patents.

Apple won a jury verdict but the judgment is yet to come this Friday. However, the amount of damages awarded by the jury was also eye-popping. A whole $1.05 billion was an enormous amount for designs which keeps changing with the trend. Had it been only the patents infringed upon then it would have been a balanced amount as patents leads to long term profits to a company and needs to be safeguarded at any cost. On Friday if Judge Lucy Koh decides to award Apple treble damages (three times increase) for willful infringement by Samsung then don’t be surprised to see this amount go skywards. But what it now means, as rightly put by Bridget Carey, CNET correspondent, a billion dollars less spent of innovation by Samsung.

What next?

For other players in the field there is no silver lining on the cloud. Microsoft’s windows phones along with Nokia didn’t impress much anyways. So even if Microsoft intends to impress customers by showing its originality and ‘clean’ image, I would say “who cares buddy. Get a life!!” It was not impressive then and is the same even now. However, HTC and Google would have started working late hours for planning and preparing explanations for any future face off with Apple. Interestingly, it was one the emails sent by Google to Samsung which had cleared a lot of dust from jury’s eyes and then they could see the case through. Before partnering with Samsung on Android platform Google had asked to change its phones designs as they were looking deceptively similar to Apple’s iPhone. But good sense didn’t prevail then.

So what next for the customers? Well, for now the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Tablet 10.1 fans can breathe a sigh of relief as these products will be available for not being the subject matter of the case. For other Galaxy models we need to wait until the dust settles.

But one would always wonder what made Samsung go for such “slavish” copying that it was ready to risk its hard earned brand name. Or was it just good luck on part of Apple that it managed to have an engineer as the foreman of the jury who himself was the owner of a couple of engineering patents. Whatever is the case, but it’s a good lesson for all industry players that the path of righteousness always leads to victory.

Image credits and copyright :

Apple logo and Samsung logo via Wikipedia
Obvious Similarities -
Verdict-o-matic -

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