Article of the day link: WIN.
After less than 3 days, the jury came back with some conclusions. And those conclusions were exclusively in favour of the iPhone, ruling that six of the seven patents under dispute were violated. However, the jury only awarded half of the original damages sought by Apple.
The next question on everyone’s mind is whether the trial judge, Lucy Koh, will extend the ban on Samsung products. Which would, you know, be hectic. A quick snapshot of the Korean company’s stock price as it traded this morning:
Like a rock. And not in a diamond kind of way.
But I will be honest, in spite of my willingness to be on Apple’s side in any way possible and on any point available, I am concerned by the whole jury aspect of this.
This was a nine-person jury. One of the panel members was a construction worker. Another wears flip-flops and has a job description of “plays video games”. And here they are, casting deciding votes after four weeks of lawyering, on a matter that explores the intricacies of US and international intellectual property law, which has the ability to change the world of smartphones. And affect two multi-billion dollar companies. And many many pension funds with shareholdings in one or other or both.
Does that really feel like justice?
Luckily, the foreman described the jury deliberations as “meticulous“. And then told the press that the entire case hinged on a Google email telling the Samsung folk to make the design look less like an iPhone*. He also said that the jury worked through coffee breaks and lunch breaks, and argued for an hour longer than scheduled on two of the three days.
The “67 year old San Jose resident” sounds like he’s really enjoying the media attention, if I could just point that out. He goes on and on and on about “a lightbulb that went off” in his head, and “I thought I need to do this for all of them” and “we threw things out that didn’t need to be considered”.
Dear Apple. It sounds a bit like a hollow victory for me. That said – how hollow can a $1 billion payout really be?
I want more hollow victories.
*Letting everything rest on a Google mail seems a little not-very-meticulous to me. And Lucy Koh dropped the payout by $2million on “inconsistencies” in the jury’s findings…
remythequill August 28, 2012 at 12:52
When the news broke yesterday, the Twitterverse (God, I hate this word) went wild. Everyone had their own two cents to toss into the conversation. You have got to love the power of technology in that respect. From the limited legal experience I have with intellectual property law, it seems as though Apple had a legitimate right to pursue their claims. The Samsung models do look similar to the iPhone, that has never been in doubt. On that ground I have to question what on Earth a company like Samsung was doing launching a product that was so blatantly similar to a competitor’s.
On the other hand, I also have to question Apple’s degree of litigation. The US laws allow a person to patent nearly everything, and it is this ability that Apple might be abusing. I am not sure, I am a bit undecided in that regard. The one thing I do support though, that I have always supported is the right for people to protect their ideas. Note my use of the word “protect.” Patent law should not be used to “restrict” ideas or to stifle the competition. If this is what Apple intends on doing, then that is wrong. But that is a separate issue with its own debates, none of which arise in this instance. The important thing I took out of this case is that:
1. Intellectual property law is becoming a powerful medium for litigation. The consequences of a case have far-reaching effects.
2. Intellectual property is damn expensive…and theft of intellectual property is severely punished. Sometimes, more severely than “normal” crimes.
3. $1 billion dollars is a heck of a sum to have to pay to a competitor. I don’t know what Samsung is going to say about that figure.
4. There is value in being the first to create something. There is also a right to protect your creation. But, and this is what I hold to be the most important thing, there is also value in realising that your creation is dependent on other people, on other influences. There is no such thing as independent creation, everything influences everything else. Apple needs to tread those patent law waters lightly. You never know what might come back to bite them in their richly lined posterior.