In a court case decided today in Apple’s backyard, a jury voted that Samsung did indeed steal Apple’s ideas. I’m sure you already know this, and we have talked a few times about the back and forth battle of the patent wars. I’ve expressed my opinion that I wish all the companies would just stop suing each other and come up with some new ideas. One of the patents that Apple was suing Samsung over was the way that a picture would bounce back a little bit to let you know you have reached the end of the gallery. Really? A billion bucks to make a picture bounce a little? Doesn’t Apple have better things to fight over?
I know that I am reducing the whole court case down to one little item, but most of the rest aren’t any better. Apple thinks it can patent a rectangular phone with round edges. It’s a shape, and not even one the company created. Rectangles with rounded edges have been around since the first caveman couldn’t connect his lines very well. How does Apple think it can own that? Yes, the iPhone was a great step forward, but Apple simply stole someone else’s ideas and improved on them. It didn’t invent the cell phone or the PDA – it just decided to combine the two. It’s called innovation, and now Apple is mad that someone else innovated. If Apple put the money in legal costs that it’s accruing the world over into its research department, maybe it could actually innovate something new once again.
Of course, I don’t truly blame either company for all this mess. I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the patent office who hands out all the patents. Who decided it would be a good idea to patent the rounded rectangle? Or how about the slide to unlock feature? Who gets to decide what company was the first with certain ideas? Is it who puts in the application first? I’ve seen it take many years to actually approve a patent application. Is this because the patent office is so backlogged with stupid requests to patent things that are common knowledge? Is this how the patents get approved? Just fill the patent office up with enough requests and they will start pushing them out as approved. It makes no sense to me.
Samsung’s biggest concern in this whole case is probably not the money itself. There is also a chance that a judge will decide to ban Samsung devices in the US. The jury’s decision in the case was that Samsung did not steal Apple’s ideas for its Galaxy Tab line – only for its smartphones. This means that Samsung’s tablets are safe for now, but most of its smartphones might be banned. I personally don’t see this happening either. Since it is all about the money, if it came down to a potential ban, Samsung would probably just pay Apple royalties for using its intellectual property. And this is also where it would finally hit us in the wallet. Samsung will have to make up that loss somewhere, and it would probably come at the cost of the consumer in the form of higher initial costs of phones.
But all that will be decided down the road. Today Apple can be happy knowing that 12 people that live in its backyard decided that it won.