Apple won a “sweeping victory” over smartphone rival Samsung last week in what’s already being dubbed the patent trial of the century, said Jessica E. Vascellaro in The Wall Street Journal. Nine jurors in San Jose ordered Samsung to pay Apple more than $1 billion for copying features of the iPhone, including the device’s rounded corners, the layout of app icons, and the pinch-to-zoom gesture that lets users zoom in or out on screens. It’s among the biggest intellectual-property verdicts on record, and could still get worse for Samsung. In December, the judge in the case will consider Apple’s request to ban eight Samsung smartphones from being sold in the U.S. Coming just weeks before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 5, the legal victory further cements the market dominance of the world’s most valuable company. “This is a huge, crushing win for Apple,” said Brian Love, assistant professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.
“There was an elephant in the courtroom,” said Philip Elmer-DeWitt in Fortune.com, “and its name is Google.” All of the Samsung devices at issue run on Google’s Android system, which Apple considers a blatant rip-off of its software. Before Steve Jobs died, he vowed to go “thermonuclear” on Android, and this battle with Samsung is just one front in that war. “There is no question” that Google was the ultimate target, said Dan Costa in PCMag.com, and that it has suffered a major blow. Samsung, as the top distributor of Android phones in the U.S., was the system’s stalking horse, and “that horse is now heading to the glue factory.” Samsung and other Android smartphone-makers now face paying costly licensing fees to Apple if they don’t redesign their devices. Google might also be forced to change its software to avoid Apple’s patents.
Consumers are the real losers here, said Dan Gillmor in The Guardian(U.K.). Apple is trying “to create an unprecedented monopoly,” and is using the U.S.’s “out-of-control patent system” to further its aims. I “don’t want Apple, or any other company, dictating—in fundamental ways—how we compute and communicate.” Yet that’s where we’re heading. Actually, consumers have reason to celebrate, said Tim Bajarin in Time.com. Samsung, out of desperation, replicated the iPhone. Tech companies will now be forced to “innovate instead of copy,” giving consumers far more distinctive, creative choices when they shop for their next phone.