Apple Inc only had a partial win over Samsung Electronics Inc this past Monday in the never-ending smartphone wars and trials that started way back in 2012, when Steve Jobs claimed Samsung stole his designs.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C decided that Samsung Electronics Inc won’t have to pay Apple Inc $930 million in damages and the Cupertino Company quite possible lose 40 percent (roughly $382 million) of the previously promised sum.
While it agreed with a California federal jury that Samsung clearly violated Apple design and utility patents related to the iPhone, copying the iPhone’s look (a rectangular body, rounded edges, and even the placement of apps and dots on the screen), they also declared that said look is so integral to the way all other touchscreen smartphones work that it was inevitable for Samsung, and quite possibly many other companies, not to use the same general design, either by deliberate choice, or by accident.
The reasoning behind the decision was that patent law states designs can only be protected if they serve a non-functional purpose, whereas the shape and design of the iPhone are anything but non-functional. It makes it easy for people to slip the phone in and out of pockets, and makes for a more durable device.
The iPhone’s flat, clear surface facilitates easy finger-touch operation, the steel bezel protects the glass from any harmful impact, and the “row of dots” on the iPhone’s user interface is useful because it informs users of how many pages of an application is available
Emotions are mixed over at Apple HQ. Apple Inc spokesperson Rachel Wolf was quite happy with the ruling, saying that “We are pleased the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal confirmed Samsung blatantly copied Apple products. This is a victory for design and those who respect it”.
Menwhile, another Apple Inc spokesperson, Josh Rosenstock, said that “This case has always been about more than money. It’s about innovation and the hard work that goes into inventing products that people love, which is hard to put a price on”.
Michael Risch, a law professor at Villanova University School of Law in Villanova, Pennsylvania, believes that the end is near in this long-running case. The bulk of the damages awarded were not on the tech inside the phones, but on the design patents, and those have now been upheld.
Brian Love, an assistant professor of law at the University of Santa Clara, agrees with professor Risch, explaing that Apple made a case from the beginning that they were sort of the true innovators in the smartphone world. Although a lot of this technology existed in the past, Apple are the ones that came up with the very simple, elegant and easy-to-use design that took smartphones to the next level.
Image Source: businesskorea.co.kr