Apple & Samsung No Longer BFF’s: My Take on the Trial Results

I really expected the trial deliberations to go a lot longer than they did.  The fact that the verdict came back so quickly speaks volumes about design, perception, and what the public believes when it comes to computing and the patent system. I've got a quick summary of the results and a couple of opinions on where the trial went south for Samsung.


The Results are in – Samsung: GUILTY as charged

The trial, in my humble opinion, was over once the following graphic was shown. 

I’ve owned a number of Samsung smartphones – the Blackjack, the Blackjack 2, the i700 and the Vibrant (a Galaxy S phone).  Prior to 2007 and the introduction of the iPhone, all Samsung phones had a distinctive look. They were sharp edged, angular, and ran a version of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile.  The Blackjack devices were “smartphones,” or the version of Windows Mobile that didn’t have a touch screen and they had 320×240 (landscape) resolution screens. These devices were Blackberry modeled devices and were rather successful, though they were different enough to not be considered infringing on RIM’s designs and patents. The i700 was Samsung’s very first PDA phone. It ran PocketPC 2002 and eventually got an upgrade to WM2003, but it was well into 2004 before that hit.  The other two devices in the infographic below, were modeled after it.  THAT design, was wholly original and all Samsung.  The i700 was a little bit before its time. It was a decent device, but really would have been much better without the stub antenna and definitely WITH UMTS/HSPA+.

iphone compare
Apple’s most damning piece of evidence – the design changes

Post iPhone, Samsung made two big changes – First: out with Windows Mobile and in with Android. Windows Mobile had unfortunately reached a point of non-growth and innovation and Microsoft never really stood behind it anyway.  Ballmer doesn’t understand mobility and the mobile operating system’s history clearly shows that.  Google’s Android is very Windows Mobile-like and went places that Microsoft clearly couldn’t go with their mobile OS. It was a much better choice for them.

Second: their phone designs took a drastic and radical shift. Despite Samsung’s claims that Apple doesn’t own a patent on a rectangle with rounded corners (and Samsung is right…they DON’T), its clear that AFTER the iPhone hit and was successful, Samsung’s phone designs changed. Those designs also look a great deal like the design of the iPhone.  Their UI, while built on top of Android, a drastically different looking and functioning OS, looks as much like the iOS home screens as they can.

Samsung, in my opinion, is clearly trying to piggy back on the successful design of the iPhone as much as they can.  Unfortunately according to the jury in this case, they were a little too successful at their effort. Samsung was found guilty of taking action that it knew or should have known would induce it to infringe the D’677, D’087, D’305, and/or D’889 Patents. It was found guilty of willfully infringing on the ‘381, ‘915, ‘163 D’087 and D’889 Patents. Samsung was also found guilty of diluting Apple trade marks with at least six (6) phones it offers or varying carriers: Fascinate, Galaxy S i9000, Galaxy S 4G, Showcase, Mesmerize, Vibrant.

Samsung’s counter claims were found to be wanting.  The jury did not find that Apple infringed on any of its patents.

The jury found Samsung liable for $1.051B in damages. That roughly works out to the following split per phone:

  • Prevail: Over $57 million
  • Infuse 4G: $44,792,974
  • Mesmerize: $53,123,612
  • Replenish: $3,350,256
  • Transform: $954,060

Now, what I’m hoping to see as a result of all of this is a drastic redesign in Samsung phones from this point forward. Samsung needs to drastically redesign the look of their hardware as well as their Android Launcher.  TouchWiz should be left behind and Samsung should look into a different UI presentation for Android.  Given the number of different launchers out there for Android, AND the fact that iOS has been on the market for more than 5 years, I’m certain its possible for them to come up with something different.  They could also acquire an Android launcher and its development team. There are certainly enough of them out there…

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