Briefly: Apple v. Samsung

A common response to the verdict in Apple v. Samsung is that this is great for Apple and bad for consumers because the patent system in the United States is fundamentally flawed and allows large companies to wield their patent portfolios like hammers, smashing innovation and stifling the market. While I completely agree the patent system can lead to some truly horrendous and unfortunate circumstances (cf. “Lodsys sues developers over patent infringement”), I don’t believe this is the case here. Should Apple be allowed to patent a screen full of rounded rectangles? Personally, I don’t believe so. But even if they were unable to patent this, should Samsung be allowed to blatantly copy Apple’s work, tweak it (for the worse) and release it as their own? I’m not a fan of software patents, but I am a fan of ethical and respectful business practice.

As was mentioned in the case several times, it took Apple five years to design and develop the iPhone and it took Samsung three months to copy it and bring their third-rate hardware to market. Internal documents showed a willful campaign to copy every aspect of the iPhone, from hardware to software, and to do it without care or quality. Samsung has made an effort on every front of their business to ape the Apple look and feel, and regardless of how you feel about patents, you’d probably agree a company should not be allowed to do this.

What this case holds for the future of Apple’s patent protection or smartphone legal cases remains to be seen, but for now I don’t foresee consumers losing. That Samsung might be forced to create truly unique and interesting hardware and software to compete with the iPhone means consumers win, long-term.

 
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