Apple Wins – Samsung Spins
Jaan is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Samsung is still trying to spin its crushing defeat in court.
After just 22 hours of deliberation, jurors awarded a stunning $1.05 billion to Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) in its patent infringement case against Samsung, finding almost every point in Apple’s favor. Among them:
Apple proved through evidence that Samsung "took action that it knew or should have known would induce SEA or STA to infringe the D’677, D’087, D’305, and/or D’889 Patents." They proved willful infringement in five cases, and dilution of trademark in others.
Additionally, Samsung is barred from asserting the '516 and '941 patents, those relating to technology used by certain Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) chips in iDevices, as they were exhausted. These are some of the FRAND related standards patents.
Yet Samsung continues to try to spin the decision. Their statement as reported by The Verge:
Today's verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices. It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over … technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies. [emphasis added]
In this very statement Samsung is blatantly trying to justify patent infringement on the simple basis that they are improving it. Every patent infringer can try to make this claim. They admit in this statement that they are indeed copying patented technology. They simply feel that they have a right to do so if only they improve on it.
Should Xerox's patents on its revolutionary technology been voided simply because some competitor had some ideas to improve on it?
But if that is the case, then what is the purpose of patents? Do or do not inventors have a right to take advantage of a technology that they themselves have invented? Should they?
Samsung claims that this is a loss for innovation. But this is just a crazy spin. Patents ENCOURAGE innovation by giving inventors the sole right to their innovations for a period of time so that they can recuperate their investment in time and resources. Apple pointed to both the years of development and the "enormous risks" marketing head Phil Schiller said the company took to launch the iPhone within the entrenched market for cell phones. Yet Samsung wants to capitalize on this effort and risk willy-nilly. This hardly seems fair.
Many people are under the impression that since the iPhone interface is so easy to use, then it must have been easy to design. As a software engineer, I can assure you that nothing could be farther from the truth! Designing simplicity is 100 times more difficult than simply doing something the first way it comes into your mind. Think of the “rubber banding” effect, how the display “bounces” when you reach the end of a list. Would you have come up with that on your own? Just conceptualizing it is difficult enough, implementing it is also difficult. How much do you do it? How quickly do you dampen it? Every minute detail must be tested and refined. And this is just one of probably thousands of interface details, many abandoned, that must have been considered.
I would like to ask Samsung:
If designing the iPhone interface was so obvious and simple, then why did other companies not do so before the iPhone? After all, these were companies that had been making phones for years. Surely they had the resources and motivation to come up with good designs. But instead it took Apple to come in and stand them all on their heads. And now Samsung wants freedom to just copy.
No, in spite of Samsung's efforts to spin this result, in this decision the consumer has WON. They have won because patent rights have been reaffirmed. The jury has reaffirmed that yes inventors will be protected. And this means that bright, innovative people will continue to invent brilliant new technologies precisely because they see that they will have rights protected so that – for a limited amount of time – they will be able to profit from this creative effort.
Malcolm Manness has a Masters degree in Computer Science, and has worked for 14 years in development, technical publications and software quality assurance. He has been investing for 20 years. Currently, he does writing, and FileMaker Pro programming on contract.
His short fiction can be found (under pseudonym J. Seunnasepp) at http://50CentFlash.com/.
==== Understanding Apple series
You may love Apple and their products, or hate them to the core, but you cannot deny that Apple now has the highest market cap of any company, their products are trend setters, and currently they are trading at rather low multiples, especially regarding forward earnings.
Warren Buffet has the maxim: “Invest in what you know!” So, for those who want a unique perspective on Apple’s success, I have a series of articles Understanding Apple. I hope you will find them helpful and provocative.
Let me know what you think.
JaanS owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple and Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.