A patent infringement lawsuit between rival mobile device programmers Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. ended on Aug. 26 with a jury decision that Samsung's cell phones and other products used Apple technology without permission. The jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1 billion in damages. More importantly, the verdict could mean that users of products that use the Android operating system will face either limited features or increased prices in the future.
The litigation stemmed from Apple's contention that Samsung's smart phones included features, like the ability to zoom in on images and text by tapping the screen and having the screen "bounce back" when it reaches the end of a page, that are patented components of Apple's smart phone software. Though Samsung was the only defendant in the suit, by implication all phone makers that use Google's Android operating system could have their business affected in the future.
Analysts say that smart phone companies could have two choices to avoid facing similar patent litigation in the future. One, they could remove all the features that the jury found illegally infringed on Apple's software, meaning that unless they are replaced with new features, Android phones will likely be less convenient that iPhones. Two, they could pay Apple to license the disputed features. That would probably cause the price of Android phones to go up.
Patent litigation between businesses can be complex, with a great deal of money at stake. As with this case, the way the dispute is resolved could affect a party's way of doing business going forward.
Source: Las Vegas Sun, "Apple's $1B patent verdict could corner market," Paul Elias, Aug. 26, 2012
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