Sunday, August 26, 2012

As the Apple v. Samsung Litigation Continues, Consider a View from 1994

As these firms litigate tablet and mobile phone design related issues in countries around the world, two decisions came last week: 1) a court in Seoul, South Korea  provided a spit decision and 2) in San Jose, CA  jurors were favorable to Apple, with a verdict that included $1.05 billion in damages (Apple wanted $2.5 billion).  In addition, while Samsung is the named defendant in these cases, it is Google’s Android software platform, used by Samsung and other device manufacturers, that is at the heart of these disputes. (Note: The litigation has not focused on Samsung’s recent offerings such as its Galaxy S3.)

  • In the short term, Apple’s stock may move higher, while Samsung's and Google’s may be lower; but lawsuits and appeals will continue.  As technology companies expand their patent portfolios, debates will continue about whether patent or copyright law should cover software (Europe and other regions favor copyright) and if user interface design and business processes should fall within the scope of patent law at all. 
  • The history of technology innovation is mostly a process of refinement and/or better execution of pre-existing ideas.  For example: 1) several innovations popularized by Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Macintosh are based on the Xerox Star - introduced in 1981 and 2) many tablet design concepts were introduced in by Roger Fidler  in 1994  (see  video below), then Director of New Media for Knight-Ridder Inc.  Let’s hope patent wars do not stifle innovation and consumer choice.

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