On August 24, a monetarily unprecedented courtroom decision reverberated through the intertwined worlds of technology and business when a jury of nine found Samsung, an international conglomerate based in South Korea, guilty of willfully infringing on several of rival Apple’s patents. The cost for their sins? $1,049,343,540.
Cowering in the shadows of the decision’s immediate aftermath, Samsung tried desperately to deflect their personal loss onto the almighty consumer, releasing a brief, semi-sarcastic statement that included this sentence: “It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies.”
In subsequent days, the public’s consensus (and a company nearly as rich got slightly less rich.) But nearly a month later, does this decision mean anything else? Not really. For starters, this decision is the tip of the iceberg in a battle between two companies that appear to despise one another.
A Quiet Collaboration?
Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s take on the decision is that the two companies are “quietly collaborating” in court. “[This] case and dozens of others around the world are part of a struggle between Apple and Google over whose operating system will dominate a market for mobile phones and tablet computers worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year. It is not a struggle, however, in which any one company is going to get destroyed or put out of business in court. Competitors are using the courts to figure out the terms of cooperation—whose intellectual property is worth what.”
So there’s that. Looking back the decision is noteworthy but not a finalized game changer. It’s significant enough not to be swept under any rugs as long as both powerhouses are upright and swinging.
On September 15, Samsung placed themselves in the spotlight—voluntarily, this time—firing shots at Apple’s longstanding “Genius” identity with a print ad comparing the company’s new Galaxy S III phone with the iPhone 5.
Depending on which side of the fence you live on, Samsung’s reason for creating then releasing an attack ad like this either hints at a company that’s still bitter and reeling or one that refuses to back down, instead asking why would they copy a company’s patents which are inferior to their own.
Regardless of how you see it, the one thing that must be taken away three weeks later is that this feud isn’t ending anytime soon, and that $1 billion isn’t enough to make either participant break a sweat.
Michael Pina writes about sports and technology. He wrote this particular article on behalf of geektek.com, an IT company in Los Angeles.