Most of you have no doubt heard about the multitude of copyright infringement trials taking place in the world of tech and seeing as how that’s all everyone is talking about, I thought I’d offer up my opinions on the matter.
I hate them.
Okay now that that’s done with, let’s move on to the biggest patent case in a long time: Apple v. Samsung. The trial for this iconic case began about a month ago and ended last week. Apple was suing Samsung for infringing on many of its user interface designs as well as some hardware design patents. Some of these patents were fair and others were ridiculous and should never have been granted to Apple in the first place. Anyways the specific details of the trial can be found very easily via Google so I’m not going to get into it here, but I would like to talk about how this may affect the tech world.
It seems pretty clear that the patent system in the United States needs to be reformed. While some of Apple’s patents have merit, from the design of the iPhone icons to the “swipe to unlock” feature or the bounce back scroll effect, some of the patents don’t. These include the “rectangular device with rounded corners and a touchscreen” patent. I’m not sure how Apple was able to patent the shape of the phone but I think there needs to be some standards and regulations to what patents can trademark. Needless to say, that last patent could have an “interesting” impact on non-Apple manufacturers. Now while Apple is suing pretty much everyone and everyone is counter-suing Apple, a lot of people are under the impression that this landmark case will be the standard-bearer in those other trials. If Apple continues winning, be prepared to see some changes to the design on upcoming devices. I also want to point out one thing: You don’t see Microsoft being sued by Apple or vice versa because they have a cross-licensing agreement, which pretty much means they can use each other’s patents without worry. I find that amusing considering just how different Windows Phone 7/8 is as well as the fact that the new Windows Phones made by Nokia are not very similar to the iPhone in any way.
If you haven’t heard then you should know that the jury found Samsung guilty of copyright infringement and has ordered them to pay Apple approximately $1 billion in damages. Obviously Samsung is going to appeal and many so-called experts don’t believe that amount will stand. Now there are many different thoughts on this verdict, including the “wowzers that’s a lot of money,” “down with Samsung, those thieves,” and “Apple is a bunch of bullies, I’m never buying another Apple product again.” While all of those opinions are extremely valid, I’m going to be looking at some different ones.
There seems to be two main opinions, the first being that Apple winning is great for innovation. The fact that Apple is able to protect its intellectual property from other manufacturers means that they are going to have to come with new fresh ideas and get the innovation train moving along, perhaps a circular phone with a full keypad? You see, Apple winning is going to force the other manufacturers to step up their game and really start trying to separate themselves from the iPhone, which sounds great in theory but it seems like Apple isn’t trying to spark innovation, as much as it’s trying to stifle and ultimately push out all competition.
While we are on this topic, I’d like to mention that Apple is not completely innocent either and there are quite a few examples of new Apple features that have been on Android since its inception, including the scroll down notification center. Moreover, iOS 6 will include tab, bookmark and history syncing – something Google Chrome for Android has always had. While these aren’t Samsung specific it just goes to show that borrowing ideas from other areas of the industry is just the nature of the beast.
The next opinion I’ve heard is that this is actually going to work out well for Samsung. You see, according to this trial many Samsung products are the “same” as the iPhone. But the difference is that Samsung products are noticeably cheaper. So for those not as tech-savvy or for those who don’t care as much, they can get the look and performance of the iPhone at a much cheaper price. It was a marketing scheme from Samsung that ‘only’ cost them $1 billion but has captured the attention of all those looking for a capable phone without paying an arm and a leg for it. It seems very likely that if you were to walk into a cell phone store or Future Shop, for example, and found that the price of an iPhone was too expensive, the customer service rep would just direct you to the Samsung Galaxy S2 or a bunch of other Samsungs that look similar to the iPhone, have the same camera specifications, processor, memory, features for a fraction of the cost.
In terms of major fallout from this case, we will just have to wait for the appeals process and in September there is the injunction hearing where Apple will try to ban 8 Samsung products from being sold.
Also if the relationship between these two companies wasn’t enough to make you pull your hair out already, you should know that the iPhone’s flash memory, DRAM memory and processor (the parts of the phone that, you know, make it work) are all built by Samsung.
Anyways, I want to thank you all for reading this week’s article on the world of technology and I hope to see you next Wednesday for my next article.