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5 ways Apple could lose out from its victory over Samsung

David Price | Aug. 29, 2012
Samsung faces over $1bn in damages and potential bans on the sale of certain smartphone products, but it's not all good news for Apple

"Wife: 'Oh wow,' looking at the screen, 'that's a lot cheaper. Think we can return it?'"

The people he has watched then frequently approached him to ask about his various Samsung products, how much they cost and how well they work. In other words, to some observers the verdict seems to amount to 'Apple and Samsung products are the same - but the price tags aren't'. Gutierrez calls the verdict the "best billion dollar ad-campaign Samsung ever had".

3 It draws attention to the weaknesses of the patent system itself

When we asked readers whether they thought Samsung had copied Apple (at the start of the lawsuit), more than a quarter went for the response 'I don't care, I think the lawsuits are getting silly'. And you can bet that number would be even higher now. Patent fatigue is rife.

In 'Apple v. Samsung Highlights Insanity of Tech Patents', my colleague Tony Bradley wrote about the effect this case is having on popular perceptions of the patent system.

"To many, the patents being tossed about by Apple and Samsung like cannon fodder are simply ludicrous," Bradley wrote. "Apple has a patent for unlocking the smartphone by swiping? Thats ridiculous. Its obvious. How else would you navigate a touchscreen interface?"

The judiciary are also growing tired of the volume of patent cases clogging up the courts. Judge Lucy Koh has often lost her patience with Apple and Samsung's slow-moving legal teams throughout this case, but her feelings pale in comparison with patent terminator Judge Richard Posner, who has repeatedly stated his low opinion of such cases and dismissed the patent dispute between Apple and Motorola in June "with prejudice".

Finally, legislation has been introduced in the US to try and curb patent trolling. The Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act would force patent litigation plaintiffs to pay the legal costs of the defendant if they lose the case.

Apple has been one of the most vigorous users of the patent system in recent years, and would stand to lose significantly if the groundswell of popular indignation and judicial irritation leads to a clampdown on this legal recourse.

4 It makes Apple look like a litigious corporate giant, instead of a plucky bunch of pirate rebels

Ever since its founding Apple has liked to play up to the role of plucky underdog: the rebel outsider who won't play by anyone's rules. Steve Jobs was quoted as saying "It's more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy" in the early 80s, and his Mac team posed in front of a skull and crossbones for a Fortune story in 1984.


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