It’s been a real Goliath and Goliath battle. But the US patent case between American technology giant Apple and its South Korean rival Samsung is finally at an end – at least for now.
Apple has come out on top, scoring a major legal victory after a Jury in the Californian courts ruled that Samsung had infringed patents used in the iPhone.
The American company had been seeking up to $2.75bn in damages, but Samsung has been ordered to pay less than half that, at a still hefty $1.05bn.
But now that the historic case has reached a conclusion, just what does it mean for the smartphone industry and its customers?
Well, the ruling could have far-reaching consequences. As a result of the jury’s verdict, Apple could now decide to request an injunction against the Samsung devices involved, which include the Nexus S 4G and SII. While Samsung has already vowed to appeal the ruling, it could be forced to take its gadgets off the market until they are changed.
For those who already own one of Samsung’s devices, it obviously won’t mean you’ll be forced to give it up. What it could mean though is your phone could receive a software update which changes the way its screen works and looks.
Those with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet will be unaffected as the one bright spot in the ruling for the South Korean firm was the verdict that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablets did not violate Apple’s iPad design patent.
The ruling could, however, still have a ripple effect across the smartphone and Android market. While Samsung had counter sued Apple, claiming the Californian giant had infringed five of its own patents, the court did not agree, a major point in the verdict which could affect some of the biggest players in the industry.
Industry analysts are now predicting Apple could set its targets on Google. Smartphone makers could be sued for similar software infringements, meaning Google could have to tweak Android’s user interface. The possibility has already led to Google share prices falling while Apple’s jumped to record highs.
The verdict has only served to strengthen Apple’s already solid design identity. Samsung has described the decision as “a loss for the American consumer”, saying: “It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices.”
Samsung’s statement added that it was “unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners.”
But some in the industry believe the verdict could actually spark a “burst of creativity” in the design of future devices because competitors won’t want to find themselves in the same situation as Samsung.
Apple was clearly delighted with the ruling, saying: “The mountain of evidence presented during the trial showed that Samsung’s copying went far deeper than even we knew.”
The American firm still, however, has to fight an appeal. The bitter battle between Apple and Samsung is far from over.