Mon, Aug 27, 2012 - Page 9 News List

Apple’s courtroom victory could limit consumer’s phone options

By PAUL ELIAS  /  AP, SAN JOSE, California

A jury’s conclusion that Samsung stole the innovative technology used by Apple to create its revolutionary iPhone and iPad could mean fewer smartphone options for consumers to choose from, analysts said.

Apple Inc’s US$1 billion legal victory sends a warning to other companies manufacturing similar devices, the biggest marketplace threat to Apple.

A federal jury’s found on Friday that Seoul-based Samsung stole Apple’s technology to make and market smartphones using Google’s Android software.

“Some of these device makers might end up saying: ‘We love Android, but we really don’t want to fight with Apple anymore,’” said Christopher Marlett, chief executive of MDB Capital Group, an investment bank specializing in intellectual property. “I think it may ultimately come down to Google having to indemnify these guys, if it wants them to continue using Android.”

That is if the verdict stands. Samsung, the global leader among smartphone makers, vowed to fight. Its lawyers told the judge it intended to ask her to toss out the verdict.

“This decision should not be allowed to stand, because it would discourage innovation and limit the rights of consumers to make choices for themselves,” Samsung lead lawyer John Quinn said.

He argued that the judge or an appeals court should overturn the verdict.

Apple lawyers plan to formally demand that Samsung pull its most popular cellphones and computer tablets from the US market. They also can ask the judge to triple the damages from US$1.05 billion to US$3 billion.

US District Judge Lucy Koh will decide those issues, along with Samsung’s demand she overturn the jury’s verdict, in several weeks. Quinn said Samsung would appeal if the judge refuses to toss out the decision.

Apple filed its patent infringement lawsuit in April last year and engaged the country’s highest-paid patent lawyers to demand US$2.5 billion from its top smartphone competitor. Samsung fired back with its own lawsuit seeking US$399 million.

The jury on Friday rejected all Samsung’s claims against Apple, but also decided against some of Apple’s claims involving the two dozen Samsung devices at issue.

It found that several Samsung products illegally used such Apple creations as the “bounce-back” feature when a user scrolls to an end image and the ability to zoom text with a tap of a finger.

The US case was the latest skirmish in a global legal battle between the two tech titans. Its outcome is likely to have a ripple effect on the smartphone market. Other device makers relying on Android, the mobile operating system that Google has given for free to Samsung and other phone makers, may be more reluctant to use the software and risk getting dragged into court.

‘CRISIS OF DESIGN’

During closing arguments, Apple attorney Harold McElhinny claimed Samsung had a “crisis of design” after the 2007 launch of the iPhone and executives were determined to cash in illegally on the success of the revolutionary device.

Samsung’s lawyers countered that it was legally giving consumers what they want: smartphones with big screens. They said Samsung did not violate Apple’s patents and alleged innovations claimed by Apple were created by other companies.

Samsung said after the verdict that it was “unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners.”

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