Apple won its lawsuit. Will it lose its luster?
For years, Bill Gates and Microsoft were reviled for supposedly trying to create a monopoly by suppressing innovation.
Gates and Microsoft were seen as the establishment, epitomizing greed. Steve Jobs and Apple were perceived as being part of the counter culture–the anti-Microsoft.
Ironically, the “greedy” Gates left Microsoft and went on to become the world’s biggest philanthropist. And he’s given a cash award for innovation in the form of a solar toilet: “Will Bill Gates do for the Toilet what he did for the Computer?”
When Apple was awarded a judgment of over $1 billion in its lawsuit against Samsung yesterday, the public lost. Unless the ruling is overturned, Apple will reap billions from other companies who want to use features like double-tap zooming. And that will be passed onto consumers. If upheld on appeal, it will mean fewer choices.
In a statement, Samsung officials said:
“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. Consumers have the right to choices, and they know what they are buying when they purchase Samsung products. This is not the final word in this case or in battles being waged in courts and tribunals around the world, some of which have already rejected many of Apple’s claims. Samsung will continue to innovate and offer choices for the consumer.”
The ruling sent a message that “stealing isn’t right,” Apple officials said in a statement:
“We are grateful to the jury for their service and for investing the time to listen to our story and we were thrilled to be able to finally tell it. The mountain of evidence presented during the trial showed that Samsung’s copying went far deeper than even we knew. The lawsuits between Apple and Samsung were about much more than patents or money. They were about values. At Apple, we value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy. We applaud the court for finding Samsung’s behavior willful and for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn’t right.”
CNET questioned whether the jury was prepared to deal with the complexity of patent law.
CNN Money reports on what happens to your Samsung phone:
”Apple’s design and software claims involved scores of Samsung devices, including the Nexus S 4G and S II.
“As a result of the ruling, Apple could request an injunction against the Samsung devices that were found to have infringed on its patents. That means Samsung could be forced to take those gadgets off the market until they are changed.
“If you already own the devices in question, though, don’t worry: Even with an injunction, no one can pry the phone out of your hands. But it’s possible that your phone could receive a software update that tweaks how it looks and works.”
It’s a big win for Apple and its stockholders–at least in the short term.
In the long term, Apple, which was already outsourcing hundreds of thousands of American jobs to China in order to make itself one of the most profitable companies in history, may lose its cool, counter-culture image and begin to be perceived as greedy.
And that, in turn, just might mean that owning an iPhone or an iPad doesn’t seem quite as cool.
Maybe Apple will decide that with the billions it collects over time if the ruling is upheld, it can afford to bring all those jobs back from China. That would make every American proud to own an Apple device.
Ha, ha, ha. No, I guess not.