Guest post by Jacob Kojfman (Vancouver Tech Law)

Last week, Apple Inc. (“Apple”) received a piece of very good news when a jury awarded it a $1-billion decision in its patent infringement case against Samsung.

The jury in the case decided that Samsung was violating Apple’s patents on a number of design and software matters.   The jury did not find that Samsung violated any of Apple’s intellectual property in its tablet design.

The ramifications to this decision are huge.  Aside from the obvious, that Samsung will stop selling the phones and tablets that were the subject of the jury decision, the bigger question is the mobile-phone and tablet industries as a whole: what happens next?

There is the possibility for further innovation in the market by all the companies involved.   Microsoft, a late entry to the smartphone game, has received positive accolades for its system. However, this the Nokia phone that runs the Windows system is not selling well.  Samsung, which is the largest seller of smartphones, could easily fall from its perch if it is no longer allowed to sell its iPhone-esque devices in America.

While there is hope for further innovation, smaller upstarts may feel deterred from launching products that even appear to be too similar to those of Apple’s, for fear of getting bogged down in lengthy and costly litigation.  One of the perks of Apple’s giant horde of cash.

More importantly, this decision could just be the start of on-going legal battles for Apple.  Google has filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming patent infringement.  This lawsuit just adds to the further drama that is the smartphone wars.  Google’s Android system is the operating system of the Samsung phones and tablets at the heart of Apple’s recent legal victory.  According to Rich Karlgaard, columnist of the Wall Street Journal, all that is happening now is that companies are taking products that already exist and making them better, a strategy that Steve Jobs used.

Only time will tell if we have greater innovation in this industry, if we end up in a copycat world, and if so, will we just end up living in an Apple-dominated world.


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    I am a competition and advertising lawyer based in Toronto who blogs on competition and advertising law and interesting legal and policy developments relating to business, white-collar crime, corruption and Internet and new media law.

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