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Samsung expected to adjust designs after $1B jury award to Apple

Matt Hamblen | Aug. 28, 2012
Samsung intends to fight Friday's landmark jury award of $1 billion to Apple over smartphone and tablet patent violations -- possibly for years.

Samsung intends to fight Friday's landmark jury award of $1 billion to Apple over smartphone and tablet patent violations -- possibly for years.

But while it fights on, Samsung and other cell phone makers are expected to make changes to future Android smartphone and tablet designs to avoid further patent litigation.

Some analysts suggested Monday that the trial loss could prod Samsung to produce more phones using the Windows Phone OS, instead of Google's Android, which was at the heart of Apple's arguments to the jury.

While Samsung is expected to appeal Friday's verdict, it has vowed to fight on in nine other countries where more than 50 patent-related lawsuits have been filed by both Apple and Samsung.

In coming months, the South Korean manufacturer will continue to produce new designs and concepts, and some may show up in the Galaxy S IV expected to launch in 2013, analysts said.

"Samsung will need to be far more careful with Google, given most of what they got in trouble for seemed to be sourced in Android," said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group.

"Samsung is not without its own innovations, so coming up with new approaches to Android or better bigger on Windows Phone should not be ruled out," said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC. Samsung also produces phones based on the Bada OS, but they tend to be lower cost and unpopular in the U.S.

Enderle said Samsung might even license WebOS from Hewlett-Packard, or license patents from HP, Nokia and Research in Motion. "Expect Samsung to get more creative and be far less trusting of Google," he said.

Florian Mueller, author of the Fosspatents blog based in Germany, said Samsung will "definitely keep clear of further design patent infringements that can be avoided, especially since design patent infringement is even more expensive under U.S. law than software patent infringement."

But Mueller noted that Samsung has been "hedging its bets for some time" by supporting other platforms than Android. "Samsung is and will continue to be a multi-platform player," he added.

"Since Google is apparently unable to protect Android, Samsung is certainly going to see a benefit in partnerships with companies like Microsoft and Intel that have stronger patent portfolios and are more careful about avoiding infringements than Google, which has a history of pushing the intellectual property envelope," Mueller added.

Llamas said it is "too early to tell" the long-term impact of the jury's action on overall Samsung designs. But many analysts say there are an almost immeasurable number of ways that engineers can alter designs to avoid patent infringements.

Enderle was an exception, however, saying that radically different designs from the iPhone haven't proved popular. "Radically different designs haven't sold, which is why Samsung/Google likely copied Apple in the first place," he said. He said Samsung will "look at creative ways to get away with their copying going forward."


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