For those of us not paying attention to other things Apple is involved in besides the release of the new iPhone 5; Apple has been in a rigorous lawsuit against one of its biggest competitors, Samsung. In the Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit, Apple won. Big time. Humongous. Apple was awarded over a billion dollars and almost all of its claims of patent infringement were supported.
Did Samsung deserved everything it got last week? In my opinion, it was not hit hard enough. The company has spent the past few years shamelessly and deliberately copying Apple’s patented designs and technology. You only needed to walk into Staples or Best Buy over the past years to see how every Samsung smartphone or tablet looks like it was designed in Cupertino (Apple) — perhaps by some bootleg Apple not capable of doing as good a job as Apple itself, but still close enough to be confusing.
Just so you don’t think that this is just a chance for me to take a stab at Samsung because I’m an iPhone user (this might make me bias), I by no means think that Apple needs the billion-dollar settlement. If anything, they should donate that to something worthy like an educational program helping further technology in school systems. I actually think that the whole lawsuit argument that says patented aspects of Apple’s iPhone and iPad designs are so obvious and compelling they shouldn’t be restricted to one company. If Apple can argue and win a lawsuit like this, then automotive companies should be suing each other for building cars with “circular steering wheels”.
Even ignoring patent limitations, the iPhone is different. Apple’s iPhone design is nothing close to a circular steering wheel. There were smartphones way before the iPhone came along. These older smartphones neither looked like nor acted anything like the iPhone. What Apple did with the iPhone was revolutionary and different. No one had ever seen anything quite like it before. This is obvious in retrospect. That’s why the iPhone became such a huge success. Hence why everyone is now trying to copy it.
To turn this around and argue that, because Apple’s design is successful, it is also so “generic” as to require that others be allowed to copy it—that’s an argument that should never get off the ground.
To sum it all up, this whole battle could have gone either way, but like many things in the judicial system, grey areas have allowed a billion-dollar settlement in Apples favor that it truly doesn’t need. Everyone will continue to buy from both Apple and Samsung, and the world will continue to spin, unaffected by it all.