I was watching Twitter yesterday when the Apple vs. Samsung jury came back and announced its findings. The overall sentiment on Twitter was one of worry — mostly about the reaffirmation that this gives to litigation and the patent system itself. The worry is that with such sweeping victory, Apple now has massive power over the patents they have and thus everyone should cower if cornered by Apple.
I think this assumption is dead wrong.
In order to believe this, you also have to believe that Apple wants to take you to court — they don’t. In fact, all Apple really seems to care about is not being ripped off — and really don’t we all care about this. It doesn’t appear to me that Apple is looking at every obscure patent they have and finding someone to sue, rather they are looking into products that they feel copy theirs.
Perhaps most importantly, the jury ruled that many of Samsung’s infringements were “willful” — that is, the company deliberately copied Apple’s patents. That’s how they got to that $1.051 billion damage award; they punished Samsung for doing it on purpose.
In my opinion, from what I have read, this case was not about patents for Apple or the jury (it was for Samsung) — for both Apple and the jury this case was about copying an idea. The question that the jury answered for Apple, and for me, was: did Samsung copy Apple products, or did they Remix Apple products?
The jury came back and said: Samsung copied.
Furthermore, the jury came back and said that said copying is wrong. But we all knew it to be wrong the entire time.
Yes, the patent system is a fucked up mess to say the least, but I still very much believe that what Samsung has done is wrong no matter how you slice it.
So yes, I would like patent reform, but I am also very happy that this jury simplified the matter and handed out the correct verdicts.1
Though, the verdict sounds unlikely to stand, the judgment has more or less gotten the point across in the court of public opinion — something Apple really wanted. ↩