Apple has won a victory it may eventually regret. On Friday (Aug. 24), a California jury awarded Apple a tad over $1 billion in its patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung Electronics, which a jury found liable of "willful infringement" of Apple’s wireless patents.
Rick Merritt, my EE Times colleague who was in the San Jose courtroom throughout the trial, warns that "the Android community should be very afraid in the wake of Apple's clear win." Merritt argues that "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 the iPad."
It may indeed be the case that Apple will go after many Google Android devices, using this verdict as a club to bludgeon other rivals into either withdrawing smartphones and tablets already in the market or agreeing to pay hefty royalties. Rivals could also adopt the Windows mobile operating system, as Microsoft marketing executive Bill Cox tweeted after the Apple-Samsung verdict was announced.
It's more likely that Google will rework its Android operating system to avoid any of the patents involved in the Apple-Samsung tussle.
There are other reasons why Apple should hold off on uncorking the champagne. It has won this skirmish in the patent wars, but there are many more battles ahead. It is itself locked in other patent disputes, including a separate case with Google, which alleges Apple violated patents previously owned by Motorola Mobility. The unit is now part of Google. That case will take months if not years to play out.
The San Jose jury certainly won’t have the last word in the wireless patents battles. Last week, for example, a court in Seoul found both Apple and Samsung infringed each other's patents and ordered both to stop selling certain smartphones and tablets.