From an engineering point of view, the abuse of the patent system puts a huge weight as well as time and money pressure. When you started developing a product, would you really think before using a rectangular shape? I mean come on! Now imagine the effort required to just circumvent the simplest and most obvious things around. I believe the main argument of patents is to provide an incentive to creativity by making sure that you can make money from your own invention. The way they work at the moment, is simply to put someone off from trying to do anything, as mega corps patent the most obvious things by the thousands each year and anything you may try is like crossing a minefield. Not pleasant.
There is a very good set of reports on a tech legal site called Groklaw - required reading if you want to get some sort of informed opinion.
After following the case there I was astonished the jury took just three days to reach its opinion. There is some doubt as to whether the input of the guy with patent experience exceeded his remit as a member of the jury. It appears he certainly had sympathy with patent holders and this may have clouded his and the jury's judgement (IMHO of course).
UK threw the case out. Korea was even handed. US went for the US guy. Why? Hard to tell whether it was due to objective analysis of the data (some correspondents say that it unlikely in 3 days due to the case's complexity) or just support for a US listed company & brand icon in difficult economic times. Good for Chinese manufacturing too.
So, since the jury foreman was a retired EE and had some patents, he and eight others could answer 700+ legal questions in three days? Really? I mean...REALLY? This should have taken WEEKS of analysis by people skilled in patent law and user interface design experience...not three days by virtual laymen. This is the crux of the problem. This was too important to be decided as it was.
Have a look at this Ars article which sheds rather a different light on said juror : http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/08/apple-v-samsung-juror-describes-deliberations-we-wanted-to-send-a-message/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+arstechnica%2Findex+%28Ars+Technica+-+All+content%29
To my mind 'sending a message' goes WAAAAY beyond a jury's remit.
"Or will purchases of Galaxy handsets and tabs go up in sympathy with what some may see as a (very big) underdog beaten down by the world’s most valuable company"
World's most valuable company? Maybe in the sense of most profitable? It doesn't keep the power up during a storm, it doesn't provide drinking water, it doesn't prevent accidents from happening (more the other way around), it doesn't even provide a significant portion of the computing power used by utilities, businesses, or the military. It's kind of laughable to call Apple the most valuable company in the world, where the value is in hand held gadgets used mostly for entertainment, is it not?
No question what this law suit did for me. It reinforced my unwillingness to buy any of their products. That's how valuable I've found them to be in the past.
But on the court case coverage, I'm seeing inconsistencies. For example, in one article, you state that the jury found the Apple's look and feel infringement argument invalid, but in other articles, supposedly that was an Apple vistory. On the question of prior art, in one article I see that the judge could not allow such claims because they arrived too late, and in other articles the expert witnesses could not convince the jury that prior art existed or mattered. Or maybe the problem is that some of these apply to pads and not to phones?
I frankly don't know how a patent infringement case can be decided if prior art isn't given a lot of emphasis. Especially in cases involving Apple, who have always leveraged their products on prior art.
The front page of the SJ Mercuty had an interview with the jury foreman who is a retired engineer who had written patents himself. I was impressed by his knowledge. He apparently owns no Apple products and considers them overpriced.
Samsung owns many key patents on LTE far more than Apple bought from Nortel, many of them are not part of FRAND. If Apple wants iPhone 5 on LTE, they may have to pay additional royalty to Samsung.
I recall seeing a cover article somewhere: "The Patent: Invention of the Decade" or some such. Drawing a line in the sand and saying, "This is ours" may just be a way of prompting the industry to say, "OK, any stuff outside your line isn't yours. Now, here is our new industry-standard stuff."
Apple cut itself off once before, and Macs gobbled up a whopping 5% of the market.
I'm not sure how much of the iPhone is actually patentable. WYSIWYG? Nope - Xerox ALTO. Keyboard on a screen? Wireless data connection to servers? Nope - Alan Kay described them as part of the DynaBook idea developed at Xerox PARC using ARPA contract funds. The Palm Pilot surely covered a lot of PDA features.
Can the iPhone look-and-feel be copyrighted or trademarked? Maybe, but DID THEY ACTUALLY DO IT?
Multi-touch? Did MINORITY REPORT show Tom Cruise using a similar thing (without touching a surface, of course)? Was that before or after iPhone? Was there any other prior art?
Back before political correctness, we called it "Chinese engineering": identify the selling points in a product, and bring an equivalent to market for less.
I don't know if Android itself has anything to fear. Coming up with a new way of manipulating the GUI will take effort, but it's do-able, and I'd love to see the industry stomp Apple for their hubris. IMHO the only thing they got really right was the iPhone App Store.