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Apple-Samsung case ends in split decision

05 May 2014  | Rick Merritt

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Initial verdict analysis

Brian Love, an assistant professor of law at Santa Clara University who has been following the case, provided extensive commentary on it:

Though this verdict is large by normal standards, it is hard to view this outcome as much of a victory for Apple. This amount is less than 10 per cent of the amount Apple requested and may not surpass by too much the amount Apple spent litigating this case.

Apple launched this litigation campaign years ago with aspirations of slowing the meteoric rise of Android phone manufacturers. It has so far failed to do so, and this case won't get it any closer.

Overall, this outcome feels like a defensive victory for Samsung, and not a particularly shocking one. Compared to the first case between these companies, this trial was an uphill battle from the start for Apple. With Google directly involved in developing the allegedly infringing software, Apple's claims that Samsung blatantly copied the iPhone never rang true.

Apple's case at trial also bogged down at times in nitty-gritty expert testimony about the patented technology and complex damages calculations.

Samsung's partial win on its own counterclaims is icing on the cake, a moral victory against Apple's insistence that it is a peer-less innovator.

The focus of this case now shifts to whether Apple can convince Judge Koh to issue an injunction banning the sale of Samsung products found to infringe. So far, Apple has been unsuccessful at doing so and, without a sales ban, this case is unlikely to move the needle on the larger battle between Apple and Android.

It is also important to remember that no money has changed hands and none will for some time to come, if ever. Samsung appealed Apple's earlier victory and will almost certainly appeal this one as well. Large damages awards in patent cases are reversed quite often post-trial. It's entirely possible that we'll be right back where we started 18 months from now.

To the extent it wasn't already apparent, this verdict should suggest to Apple that litigation isn't a very effective means to gain a competitive advantage over Android. Hopefully, Apple will come to that conclusion, end its worldwide patent war, and go back to competing in the marketplace with innovative products.

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