SAN JOSE – The Android community should be very afraid in the wake of Apple’s clear win Friday in its case against Samsung in San Jose’s federal court. Apple is now armed with a handful of proven weapons it can wield against Android competitors in and out of court on the industrial design of its iPhone and the user interface of both the iPhone and iPad.
Android handsets now significantly surpass the iPhone in market share, thanks to the success of HTC, Motorola, Samsung and others. Some market watchers believe Android tablets from Amazon, Google, Samsung and others also will surpass the iPad eventually.
But the court decision suggests a new dynamic that could shift the balance of power and the market direction.
The San Jose jury decided most of the Samsung smartphones in the case infringe three design patents on the iPhone’s industrial design and app screen (D 593,087; D 618, 677 and D 604,305). It also said most of the accused Samsung smartphones and some of its tablets infringe three Apple utility patents (US 7,469,381; US 7,864,163 and US 7,844,915) on the look-and-feel of the software on both the iPhone and iPad.
In addition, the jury said those patents were valid despite Samsung’s attacks using world-class experts showing multiple examples of what it claimed were prior art. The jury also upheld Apple’s claims Samsung handsets violated its registered and unregistered trade dress on the original and 3GS iPhones.
The San Jose jury weakened just one small but significant part of Apple’s case. It said Samsung did not infringe Apple’s design patent on the iPad (D 504,889), suggesting that patent was valid but relatively weak. It also said Apple did not prove its unregistered trade dress on the iPad was protectable.
The net result is Apple now has three proven user interface patents that can attack any Android smartphone or tablet in court or in private negotiations and three strong design patents useful against any iPhone look alike.
“This is a boost for Apple's patent enforcement efforts against Android worldwide,” said Florian Mueller, an expert following the mobile patent wars.
“The rest of the Android ecosystem has just as much of a reason to be concerned about this as Samsung,” Mueller said. “The immediate impact will be limited to Samsung, but Apple has proven its ability to enforce not only its design patents but also its multi-touch software patents in federal court,” he said.
“The verdict also lends credibility to Steve Jobs's characterization of Android as a ‘stolen product,’” he added.
The San Jose decision also is likely to embolden Tim Cook to continue Jobs’ vow to “go thermonuclear” in a patent war against Android backers.
I'm wondering if this decision might not open a window fot Microsoft and Nokia (no pun intended) to replace infringing android products, as well as encourage developers to expand their work on the Windows Mobile platform.
Microsoft still have to catch up a lot for being a viable alternative to Andriod. I had used Windows mobile and the user interface as well as the apps were crappy. So overall until the impression does not improve, Microsoft will still lag behind.
That might well be the case, however, based on my experience with different Android versions on different devices they are crappy and buggy, as well. My bet is that Msoft will fix the bugs in W8 faster than Goog will finally fix the known bugs in Android.
HTC has long had this battle. Maybe Samsung can learn. In any case, Apple is trying to do this over the whole world, but not with 100% success.
No, I believe the solution is to sue the heck out of Apple based on Motorola patents, owned now by Goog. After that is done they will settle on reasonable terms. The lawyers will have a great payday and both Apple ad Goog will just burn some of their superfluous cash.
If you read the content at groklaw, it sounds as though jury instructions were not followed at all.
"The foreman told a court representative that the jurors had reached a decision without needing the instructions."
You obviously didn't read the posted article, wishful thinking perhaps? You could at least hide your pro Apple stance a little bit so as not to embarrass yourself. And this situation is only in the States where the Jury is a stones through from Apple headquarters meanwhile the rest of the world has thrown it out. And over what? no rounded corners? greaaaat..should this article be even in EET?? Last time i checked this is an Engineering mag, not ID magazine. The Problem with media is it's created by writers, who are all liberal Arts Apple heads and it shows. However, the "win" is already backfiring - https://plus.google.com/u/0/114476892281222708332/posts/246srfbqg6G
I have an idea for an ad/video for Android phones based on my true story(one engineer from Bengaluru who while he was run over by a truck, took a picture of the registration number of the truck using his Android phone and with just that phone reached out to his friends across to the world to help) which can energize/inspire the Android community to STRIKE BACK.
I would be more than happy to stick it to Apple for this verdict.
I have read design patent that has specified detailed dimension including length, width, height and radius of arc if there is any round corner. I couldn't believe a patent of rectangular box without scale limitation be granted in the first place. This patent lawsuit is indeed an eye opener to me. On the other hands, what happen to iPad mini and iPhone 5 if anyone has been granted a patent of 7 inches tablet and/ or that of a cinematic screen ratio form factor device.
Was Samsung agressive enough to patent the 16:9 aspect ratio on their Galaxy phones, ready to pounce on the Apple iPhone5? I bet not, and yet this is the silliness we're dealing with here.
We went shopping for a microwave oven this weekend. Wow, they all pretty much looked the same, some were more rounded looking than others, they had almost all the same features. And they even all came in the same two finish options (black or stainless). There may have been a white one too. How could they possibly get away with this?
I have a couple of patents to my name too. But somehow, I have to doubt that any stories I could tell a jury about my experiences would have helped to guide them to a similar outcome. And the recounting of those experiences seems to have been a critical aspect of this outcome, from a couple of articles I read.
Apple had patented many of the key inventions it had made previously to start the era of smartphone.
The patent system is stupid, that most of the time anyone can easily design around a technical patent. Only patents that hold strongly are design patents.
And note that every touch screen phone is rectangular with round edges. The ones from NOKIA/RIM/HTC etc. None of them violate this patent. Even the modified galaxy tab and galaxy s3 also dont violate. Which shows how easy to design around a design patent. Samsung had copied Apple pixel by pixel to get this verdict.
If Apple patented a microwave oven, you could only cook food you bought from the Apple supermarket or else risk damaging the device. If you published a cookbook with recipes Apple didn't like, they would remove your food from the shelves. Lastly, the oven would become obsolete every year.
droids should be worried ?
I take it the opposite way that Samsung was hammered on its own software - especially touchwiz and if it had stuck with plain unbranded android it wouldn't have been hit so hard.
But this case is going to be replayed in most other countries so it won't be over for a good few years yet.
If only google would stand behind android like Redhat stands behind its products and indemnify companies using it most of these problems wouldn't exist.
Yes, but the "plain Android" operating system sucks. That is why Samsung and many others (like Lenovo) had to put in fixes that enable the user for example to close a running application, which the geniuses at Goog seemingly have never considered a necessary feature in Android 3.
I'm sure that there was plenty to be learned by watching the last trial. There was a bunch of prior art not allowed by the judge because it was not declared soon enough. Any subsequent trial will have that available and have a good idea about what does and doesn't work. I believe subsequent trials will be more difficult, not easier for Apple.
This somewhat unexpected decision from the court!!. Thank god that no one had patented the normal walking style, otherwise you might find everyone dancing on the road to practice different walking styles!!!.
We are talking about one is growing in terms of numbers and one is falling, but the reality is one company can never cater the requirement of the entire globe and neither can cater the services, it was because of the Chinese manufacturer the tablet has started being used on the entire globe on hardware base. And the software base is provided by Google. Thanks to both of them.
@Kinnar: at least different walking styles can be defended based on prior art: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ministry_of_Silly_Walks
I saw a brief interview with the jury foreman, but there was no discussion of prior art, including the rounded corners on my Etch-a-Sketch
Rick, I think the analysts you cited stretch the potential impact of this decision. My experience has been that companies fight one battle in the courtroom and another outside. Even as Apple was taking its victory lap following the jury verdict, Samsung was moving to dull the edge of the decision.
On Saturday, my Galaxy S11 received a software update and I almost couldn't recognize the desktop anymore. Does this have anything to do with the verdict? I don't know but Samsung wasn't waiting around to be slapped before changing the look and feel of its product.
Even more important in this context is what Apple is losing. Goodwill isn't easy to come by and the company amassed a fortune's worth with the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Much of this image of Apple as the design innovator is being frittered away. Rather than being considered innovative it is now seen as the owner of the patent for rectangles. Check out what's being said online about the company and you'll realized the hate-o-meter is now sky high.
This may not mean much to analysts and financial investors in the company (after all the stock price is roaring high) but you know what they say about the gradual drip, drip, drip of water wearing away stone.
Finally, Apple's market share in the smartphone market won't probably ever grow above 25 percent again. In smartphones, Apple is a one-trick pony. Updates are fine -- they'll dramatically raise the company's market share but only temporarily -- when you are the only play in town but not when others are snapping at your heels. The only way I see Apple matching Samsung again in smartphones is for it to release not iPhone 5 or iPhone 6 or iPhone whatever, but another smartphone that offers something different.
Does Apple still have what it takes to be different? Perhaps it does but right now it will be known more as the company that patented the rectangle!
Bolaji, I think you overestimate the attentiveness of the general public to these types of cases when you say that Apple will be known as "the company that patented the rectangle."
The average consumer is now generally aware that Apple won some sort of case against Samsung. Maybe that consumer even knows it had something to do with Samsung copying the iPhone. That's probably as deep as it goes.
And in a couple months when the iPhone 5 is flying off the shelves and this verdict is no longer in the headlines, the average consumer won't give even the tiniest thought to this verdict.
I think you are wrong. I do not disagree that iPhone5 will be a financial success for Apple (if its radio and antenna works) but the reason they have been able to charge an outrageous premium for their devices has been their innovator image based on coolness. Samsung, Motorola and others have been catching up with them and as soon as the coolness is gone so will also the ability to charge the premium. And, without the premium Apple's business model will stop working. Anyone who has ever looked at and tried to use a Motorola Droid Razr would never buy an Apple phone again. It is not only MUCH better than any iPhone but also MUCH cooler.
I know Samsung designed the "bounce back" feature of Apple's '381 patent out of its latest phones.
I suspect your update could have included workarounds to other patents cited in the verdict.
Just talked to the jury foreman. He said he used to scoff at design patents and trade dress, too, but not now.
Yes, Droids (and everybody non-Apple) be afraid. Remember this one decision will end up being $3 Billion and injunction against selling most Samsung products in the us. Fill in the blanks with Motorola, HTC, etc. and the rest of the world and Apple WILL have a monopoly. If you want a portable device with touch screen interface and wireless connections, you are going to buy whatever Apple wants you to have at whatever price they want you to pay. (Or you could go back to bag phones and pagers.)
It is estimated that a modern smartphone has some 100,000 patents on hardware, software, techniques, etc. so everybody is infringing somewhere. Sooner or later, a consortium of companies is going to find the right combination to shut down Apple too, but until then, give the biggest company in history its due. The DOJ will jump in eventually, but by then we will have lost a generation of innovation. Punish for the three patents, sure, but put everybody out of business -- not sure how that helps me.
Wait!!! Apple claims to have a patent on technology that was shipped more than 5 years before Apple even decided to make a phone!?!?!
Somebody needs to ask why Samsung didn't use the prior art to invalidate Apples bogus patents.
Methinks Samsung wanted to lose with such an easy rebuttal as "Look at the Visor Phone as prior art and invalidate the patents"
Interesting that the community is missing a key aspect. Android is just a platform. What got Samsung is that they extended some of their platforms ability to perform Apple Features. Andriod as a OS didn't do that, the application and the hardware platform developers did.
@Batman I think Apple would have patented air (the mixture of gasses that we commonly inhale) if they could despite prior art. Their justification would be that they make a product they called Air and it is somehow innovative because it is the first to have the words "Apple" and "Air" on a laptop.
I'm sure samsung will put 110% of there effort into the the A6 or what ever the chips name will be for the iPhone 5 or 5s. Expect so so performance from there SOC as compared to what a Samsung phone will have in it hardware wise.
Samsung and Google are suing Apple and I'm pretty sure there's some infringement going on. Hopefully, if Android Inc. does have to pay licensing fees, it will be moderate because of the leverage from other suits etc.
I am done buying Apple products. They are out screw people for max profit. Without Steve, they can't innovate so they litigate.
@bryawn: If you read most of what Apple claims they innovated then you'd find it is something 5-10 years old that they claimed as their own with a new paint job applied.
The most innovative thing I have seen from Apple is the application of a method of attaching a power connector by magnet that existed in Japan for many years before apple with the "MagSafe" paint job.
The reset is just making quality hardware which would have been patented by Apple if they could do so.
What I find interesting is if you look at the 3 patents that they used against Samsung. Apart from how ludicrous they are, has anyone noticed that the patent for the rectangle with rounded corners is actually completely different from any model of the iphone. It shows more curves, when the sides on iphone are flat.
Looking at the diagrams in the third patent, and the screen of my Motorola Razr, I can see quite a resemblance. From a distance, one could be the other.
My Razr has icons with transparent backgrounds. Is that enough to keep it from infringing? The signal strength indicator and other indicators are all over on the right on my phone, but spread out on the iPhone. The battery meter is vertical on mine and horizontal on the iPhone.
There is a lot of resemblance and yet a lot of difference. I really don't understand the design patent system well enough to know if those differences are enough to prevent infringement. If they are enough, then there's no reason I can see to design an infringing phone.
Regardless, I think the whole "jumble of icons" interface paradigm is kind of stupid - not that I could do better.
Well, to be fair Apple came up with that first smartphone look and the rest followed. That's not because that Apple's phone's look had something innovative but that will be the form most phones would get to anyway because the ratios of dimensions found appealing are kind of well known from geometrical principals from centuries and Apple saying it was the first to invent that is kind of ridiculous argument.
In a nutshell Apple won the case but for all the wrong reasons and this ruling probably won't extend beyond US geographical borders.
Doesn't a patent have to be new and novel and unobvious? What so new about a rectangular case with rounded corners and with conectors around the edge?
The patents in question don't even mention the operating system so any comparison to Android is mute.
At least if they had some dimensions in there like, "The length is 2.3 times the width and the thickness is 0.12 times the width" or something like that, then it would be adding something to the technology. But these patents add nothing.
Mmmm. I'm going to patent a cylindrical device with a protrusion on the side large enough to encompass two fingers whose interior is of sufficient capacity to allow the containment of various liquids, one such liguid being coffee, but not necessarily restricted to the aformentioned liquid.
Design patents are meant to protect an overall look made up of any number of elements.
I think the iPhone has a distinctive look even though it is not wildly dissimilar to some of the examples of prior art Samsung cited such as the LG Prada.
@Code Monkey: I do remember a discussion about a possible litigation about the gas fill behind the license plate. Well, that is a reasonably obsolete practice. So is putting it behind the left tail light with a hidden button.
What I think may be just starting to dawn on the engineering community is what a design patent and a trade dress is and that they actually are a part of our US patent system now.
Mock if you will, but it is there. Better to understand it and work with it than get socked with a $1B fine.
That is an excellent observation Rick. As engineers, most of us deal only with technical patents and really have no understanding of what a design patent is. Also, prior to this trial, I had never heard the phrase "trade dress."
this case illustrates just one thing: that when the PTO doesn't do its job, the legal system is inadequate to make up for it.
these patents are absurd: non-novel and obvious. at least now we have a case that can serve to overturn the entire current IP racket and bring us back to the root purpose: PROMOTE PROGRESS.
The fact the the jury were not patent experts and they maintain that the patents still hold will be easy to turn around. Next time get in the experts. What about the five wireless patents that Apple infringed that were disallowed? Does not look fair to someone outside of the US and an ex-Apple customer. Bad publicity for a "socially aware" company will affect the share price, but right now the Wall Street folk are cashing in while they talk up the price. Might follow the Facebook hype route.
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