The legal battles between Apple and Samsung have hit yet another milestone, despite a plethora of court bases between the two tech titans in a range of jurisdictions worldwide.
Whether it’s a South Korean court deciding that Samsung hadn’t infringed on Apple’s iDesigns, or a Northern Californian US court decided that Samsung had infringed on Apple’s iDesigns, we can probably only truly safely say that the law is a rude sounding donkey.
But whether it’s King Kong or Donkey Kong you’re thinking of, or neither, US courtrooms are still the world’s most important, for they are situated within what is still the world’s most important market: that of the United States of America.
And, it is in a US courtroom that a jury has decided Samsung has infringed upon Apple’s designs, awarding the crunchy company a whopping US $1.05 billion dollars, and while the figure is almost a third of the US $2.5b that Apple was seeking, Reuters says Apple might seek “triple damages”, boosting Apple’s potential payout back towards an eventual $3 billion big ones.
We can see all manner of Samsung smartphones, all with names that desperately try to evoke the simplicity and cool of “iPhone”.
Samsung is clearly a formidable competitor, because not only are there so many handsets in so many variations, itself being the opposite strategy to Apple’s laser focus on a much smaller range of iDevices, but because Samsung is able to pump out so many variations so very quickly.
Indeed, it is clear that Samsung not only has, but will continue to quickly create smartphones and tablets that are modified just enough to avoid future infringement claims – or, as with the Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone and Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet – create devices that are very, very different to Apple’s versions, helping ensure there can be no mistake between the products of the two companies.
Hey, it might even help Samsung create products that UK judges will eventually find to be as cool, or cooler than those of Apple, even though that is not currently the case.
Still, it is this latest judgement from a US court that is getting the headlines, along with that billion-dollar-plus payout, but whether Samsung ends up paying that amount, paying more, or paying less is still yet to be seen, given that a judgement in a court case is no guarantee that the battle is over.
The true winners out of the case thus far are the lawyers, with both Samsung and Apple gaining masses of expensive publicity from the deal, and with Apple signalling to the world just how much of a competitive threat it obviously sees Samsung to be.
That ends up being quite a backhanded compliment to Samsung, even though Apple had already given Samsung that kind of compliment by using its manufacturing capabilities to help build its iProducts over many years.
In the end, all companies wishing to emulate Apple’s success have been clearly warned: if you copy Apple too closely, Apple’s legal “angry bird” eagles are well trained, well paid and have very big peckers they’ll use to poke you on the head, ensuring you’re clear as to who’s top of the pecking order.
Unless you’ve also got big pecking capabilities up your sleeve to boot, out-innovating rather than blatant copying is going to be the order of the day, lest a court order of the day is one you’ll have difficulty paying.
Samsung has tens of billions of dollars in cash to hand, just like Apple, so if Samsung ends up having to pay, it will certainly be able to do so, but whether any of the other Android handset makers will be in a position to do the same is yet to be seen.
Until then, the attack of the iClones may finally start subsiding a little, but an attempted revenge of the seething Samsung is something whose efforts have surely just been doubled in the battle for technological supremacy.
And while the battle between Apple and Google’s Android rages, the empire of Microsoft’s new hope in its upcoming Windows Phone 8 devices being able to strike back against Apple and Android will shake things up even further, especially considering Samsung not only makes Android smartphones, but WinPhone models, too.
One thing is for certain: as this most recent billion-dollar judgement so very clearly shows, legal threats are no phantom menace!