Apple's win may be a good thing for Android

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Apple's win may be a good thing for Android
Let's start out by facing a few facts: first, Apple's win over Samsung was big, and well deserved under the current set of laws, but it is not spelling out doom for Android any more than it is likely to catapult Apple to being the smartphone leader again. Second, the ruling was much more a loss for Samsung than it was a loss for Android as a whole. And, third, there's a fair chance that this ruling is going to be a good thing for Android, because this lawsuit wasn't nearly as much about patents in the way we normally think of them, and much more about design. 

Apple won this lawsuit pretty easily from all accounts. Samsung's case that it didn't model the Galaxy S and TouchWiz after the iPhone felt a bit flimsy to begin with, but now that we're hearing the story from the jurors, it seems like the case wasn't even close. Say what you will about the companies and the trial, but the jurors saw every piece of evidence (no one else can say the same) in order to make the decision, and word has it that the decision was essentially made from day one. Samsung copied Apple in an inappropriate way and was punished for it. 

But, here's the thing: Samsung copied Apple's "trade dress" in a way that was inappropriate, which means that as long as an Android device doesn't look like an iPhone, this ruling doesn't really mean all that much. Let's look at some of the patents that were an issue. There were four patents dealing with essentially design issues:

  • '381 Patent - mainly regards the "rubber band" bounce-back effect on scrolling, although it could affect multi-touch issues (but it seems in regards to this case, it was mostly the visual effect).
  • D '677 Patent - relates to the design of the front face of the hardware
  • D '087 Patent - relates to the "ornamental design" of a phone
  • D '305 Patent - relates to the rounded square icons on a black background

Then, there were two patents that could be an issue for Android in general:

  • '915 Patent - the one that can be an issue because it mainly deals with the device recognizing a multi-touch input rather than single-touch. 
  • '163 Patent - deals with double-tapping to zoom

So, there are technical patents that could pose a problem, but those are the types of patents that we talk about whenever we get a bit amped up and rant about how broken the patent system is. We may not like it, but according to the current rules, they are valid. If you want that to change, we'd suggest getting behind a cause like the EFF's Defend Innovation campaign. Those are also patents that are going to have to go through a couple more lawsuits that are more specifically about those issues before they really begin to cause problems . And, if they do become an issue, you know what we're likely to see come in to replace those interactions? Touchless control. The innovation already exists to avoid Apple's patents altogether, they just have to be put into devices. 

Then, we look at all of the issues that Samsung was punished for that really led to that $1+ billion fine, and the prevailing issue is Apple's trade dress. Samsung tried to make the Galaxy S and especially TouchWiz look like the iPhone and iOS. Sure, consumers probably could have told the difference based on the fact that one phone had an Apple logo, and one had the name Samsung emblazoned across the front, but it's hard to argue that early TouchWiz didn't look an awful lot like iOS. 

Again, the issue as to whether design features should be allowed to be patented isn't the issue (and if you're really annoyed, once again we'll point you to the EFF's Defend Innovation campaign). According to the rules right now, Samsung infringed on Apple patents, and even if the patents didn't exist, what Samsung did is something deserving of punishment. This isn't a case of some no-name toy company making a "PolyStation" that's sold for $20 in small toy shops, because that sort of thing doesn't make any difference to a product like the PlayStation. This is a huge international company making a device that is strikingly similar to another and making a ton of money off of it. 

But, that really doesn't matter to the Android ecosystem as a whole, that is purely a Samsung issue. As long as Samsung changes TouchWiz (which would make a lot of people happy anyway), and is a bit more conscious about designing its handsets (which it has been more recently), the problems for the Android ecosystem are minimal. We certainly won't see this sort of lawsuit go against HTC, because the Sense UI bears no resemblance to iOS, and the same goes for MotoBlur, Sony's Timescape, or Google's stock Android UI. The ecosystem innovated well past Apple's stark and simple UI pretty quickly, it was only Samsung that stuck around too long on the simple side. 

It's certainly possible that this ruling will leave an opening for BlackBerry or Windows Phone to pick up some market share, because Samsung is likely to drop a bit, but it's also just as possible that HTC, Motorola, Sony, LG, Huawei, or ZTE Android devices fill in the gaps left by Samsung. Patents are designed to foster innovation, and when it comes to making devices that don't infringe on Apple's design patents, the innovation has already happened. And, as far as the patents that deal with multi-touch (which we do still feel like is akin to patenting how to peel a banana), the technology already exists to move past that, if the patents really do stand up to further scrutiny. 

There is no mobile platform around that moves as quickly as Android, so it's easy to imagine that devices will evolve in whatever areas it is needed. We're not seeing Apple suing over current devices that are supposedly "copying" current iPhones. We're seeing Apple sue mainly over devices that are either gone, or will soon be gone from the market. Perhaps now devices can compete on features rather than patents, but if not, we'll just leave this right here




Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

All this 'inappropriate' talk has me iHorny. BTW, jolly good artiCle:)

2. tsspro

Posts: 23; Member since: Jan 18, 2010

The is just the beginning, Samsung will definitely do more that just an iPhone like. They will have to speed up their inovation.

3. Orbitman

Posts: 110; Member since: Oct 09, 2011

good article, as always, Michael!

4. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

All this lawsuit means is now everyone will be aiming for apple . And google/moto has started this

7. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

i think that started a long time ago...

5. taz89

Posts: 2014; Member since: May 03, 2011

as usual a great article although i will defend that the touchwiz ui on the s2 and especially the s3 are quite good and not ios like ie not all icons are in box

6. smallworld

Posts: 517; Member since: Jul 13, 2012

Seriously getting bored by these articles.

8. taz89

Posts: 2014; Member since: May 03, 2011

well each tech sites will have there own articles similar like this...would be stupid as a tech site not to have an article on this topic but i agree it is getting a bit too much especially the articles that claim doom and gloom for android

12. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

Then don't read it... Problem solved. No one is forcing you to read it, or make a comment saying how bored you are of these articles.

66. AndroidShiz

Posts: 154; Member since: Nov 08, 2011

Having some wine and cheese are you?

10. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

nice concise article. However I dont agree with RIM or WP picking up "samsungs drop" for a few reasons. First, banning US only SGS1 variants will have little effect on samsung's over all sales as most are already D/C'ed. All of their newer phones from the last few years use at least the version of TW found on the SGS2 which was found to be non infringing, so the vast majority of Samsung's sales are safe. Also, if RIM licence out phones, Samsung is likely to make one to diversify, which would pick up any slack from those SGS1 variants being banned.. and since they make WP phones as well, any uptick in WP sales is likely to help in some sort as well. We'll see how many of those patent infringements hold up on appeals. I'm still surprised the P2Z and multitouch (which is required for P2Z) held up with all that prior art and tech proving its existence years before the iphone and apple patents.. Most everything else has been taken care of a long time by android except that. Other than expecting at least one of them to be tossed by appeal, my main hope for the googerola-apple court fight is that googs laywers scare apple enough with what every they are bringing to make apple want to come to amicable (net zero cost for both sides) cross licencing terms and stop these stupid lawsuits for good.

11. pikapowerize

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 03, 2012

very nice article.. i really do believe that android's sale wont be hurt..only samsung's... i really do believe that samsung really needs to change touchwiz to a different UI.. all samsung phone products has this UI the bada has touchwiz that really looks like a mock up iOS... even the upcoming (or samsung even care about this) TIZEN.. really looks like a mock up version of iOS, android and bada... they need to replace touchwiz.. so i hope sony and motorola will be on top list again.. i just love their products.. and if this will really make an opening to BB and WP.. it will be a great!!!

23. Aeires unregistered

Don't be surprised if people buy Samsung's products in protest of Apple. The sales of the Galaxy Nexus jumped after Apple banned it, and that was minor to what happened here.

30. pikapowerize

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 03, 2012

people even consider samsung and apple the same now.. haha.. i read some articles/post on g+...

13. zackh121556

Posts: 133; Member since: Feb 01, 2012

PhoneArena was the ones saying it was a win on Android. dont try to flip it now. PhoneArena has always been for iOS no matter the topic. Android will be the king for a long time. deal with it! Also, I am not an Android fan boy, I use an Android device because it is the best for my lifestyle. love the OS and would never switch

14. AndroidVsApple

Posts: 12; Member since: Jul 01, 2012

Wow just wow.... Was hoping Samsung would win but let my hopes go too high (again)

15. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

Simplification and minimization is a natural evolution of technology and a necessity when it comes to consumers and the market. As is using previous products, both in-house and competitors', as the building blocks with which to innovate upon to give the consumers what they want. What Apple is in the end saying, and being given on a silver platter, is that they are the only ones allowed to do that. The precedent set here is no good for anyone. Absolutely everything, every single damn thing Apple has now, was built on the back of someone else's work, improved upon, and then polished. And that is exactly what Samsung did. Took what made the iPhone a selling point for the consumers, and made it better in their eyes, for the majority of their market. Where the hell would Mankind be today if there were lawyers and patents, trademarks, & copyrights ages ago? "Ug, no! No no no! Ug, you wheel no be circle. You no copy me. Ug, you use oval, or square, or triangle. No use circle, copycat."

16. dragonstkdgirl

Posts: 144; Member since: Apr 07, 2012

The only problem I see with this is give an inch take a mile - if Apple is awarded over a billion dollars in damages over a black rectangle with rounded corners and a green phone icon with rounded corners, what next? That's a damn big payout for a relatively quick trial. And since it worked the first time, there's going to be a team of Apple employees and lawyers digging for more patents and more companies to sue...

17. AndroidVsApple

Posts: 12; Member since: Jul 01, 2012

i Saw this website Based what im looking at They dont look the same at all The Galaxy Tab 10.1 Doesnt even look Nothing at to the iPad. The Galaxy Tab is used at Landscape mode. The iPad is potrait mode.. And To be Honest The Galaxy Tab Looks 10x More better than the Scrunched iPad.. AND Also The Galaxy Tab is more Open and Free Because its Android.. it got banned due to Apple (dumbasses) Who Noticed Apples OS Hasent Changed at ALL since it was Released in 2007? Android is Far from better than iOS Because Theres no hassle on jailbreaking it unlike the iPad.. i Rather go with The Galaxy Tab to do Everything And The iPad Just Leave it as Decoration cause theres nothing good about it like the iPod and iPhone (in my opinion) This Means Theres Less Android Products from Samsung i bet due to Apple.. Plus Where i live. (Close to) One Year ago When the 4S was Just Released There used to be more iPhones than Samsung Devices... Now Ever since the Nexus and the Galaxy S III Was Released i started to see More Galaxy S III or Galaxy S Devices where i live now.. Strange that now i see Less iDevices but eh. i dont care at all its everyones opinion.. CORRECT Me if im Wrong on all of this

59. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

The jury didn't find the Galaxy Tab to be in violation of Apple's iPad patents. It was only the smartphones.

18. wendygarett unregistered

I think Samsung should delete all the 2010 document in the 1st place so that Apple can shut up

19. allen83

Posts: 107; Member since: Mar 01, 2012

agreed they should not copy from ios they can be unique if they think really hard enough. Look at the N9 very very nice and unique swipe UI. I really love the swipe UI of the N9u

25. Mitchel

Posts: 228; Member since: May 25, 2012

As much as i like Samsung products, i had International SGS2 & now the SGS3, you can't deny the fact that they copied the iPhone 3gs design on SGS1 and iPhone 4 on Galaxy Ace.. They are deserved to be punished! They need to go back on the drawing board, hire a great design team, choose more premium materials for their next flagship and move on!

33. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

Mitchel, Apple has rip off everyone idea, the whole Iphone (from the name to the parts) design came from other company.. you Iphone is a mix of LG Prade+Nokia N900 commuincator+Neonode N1M+Xerox = Iphone Oh yea, did I mention the stole the NAME Iphone too...hahaha

26. denied911

Posts: 361; Member since: May 31, 2012

this is bullcrap look at converse all stars, classic chucks how many companys is making knockoffs of this design? from cheap chinese to 3 times more expensive gino rossi and many many more no one is suing anyone! apple is crazy and stupid americans love apple

57. Jay_F

Posts: 236; Member since: Nov 29, 2011

I can't believe you compared technology to clothing twice in the same article. Wow.

64. denied911

Posts: 361; Member since: May 31, 2012

i don't believe that you didn't realize it is the same comment!!! copy paste dumbass

68. Jay_F

Posts: 236; Member since: Nov 29, 2011

That's the point, tool.

29. RomeoJDR

Posts: 245; Member since: Dec 09, 2011

Great article! Certainly a different twist than all the doom and gloom for Android articles that everyone else seems to be writing

31. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

Michael, I've never disagree with you much, but on this I must. To me, the media reporters refuse to call out Apple BS patent for what they are BS. If you look at each and every patents you listed, I can show you PRIOR arts or a computer that was doing this. So the power to be, send their lap dogs out to try to calm the people who's been messing with computer langague-cellphone-computer-electronic for years.... sad thing when suppose to be computer experts sell themself... Lady Lovelace, I know is turning in her grave So please don't insult our intelligent with some BS about all is not lost..this whole TRIAL has been nothing but a sham and all about Apple Stock holders... If this case was held in any other Country in the world, Apple would had LOST big time, and anybody who's been fooling with computers since 1975 knows this!. C.O.B.O.L FTW!

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