Laying foundations for the protection of innovation
WHILE many commentators and businesses, including Samsung, are declaring this verdict to spell the end of innovation, I see this as laying the foundations for a future of protected, innovation.
The jury held that in producing a number of its devices, including the Galaxy S2 and Fascinate, Samsung had copied key aspects of Apple's iPhone design and functionality.
It was also held that Samsung's actions in copying the iPhone had been wilful and made in full knowledge of the risks of its actions.
It was this element of wilfulness that resulted in the damages being awarded at such a significant level.
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What is of particular interest (significant sums of money aside) is the debate that is now raging regarding whether companies like Apple stifle innovation.
The key arguments on this point are roughly:
â By suing any company that produces a similar looking/feeling product to one of its own, Apple is using the court system to create a monopoly over industry standard products and designs.
â By not enforcing its rights, Apple will have wasted years of research and development, and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in costs, developing market leading products that can be then copied by competitors.
If this is the case, why bother expending huge resources in time and money when it is just easier to wait for someone else to do it and then copy.
â Innovation would be better served if companies spent their money on innovation, rather than on an endless procession of court cases
I, for one, feel the argument about innovation is not as clear cut as any of the proponents of the above arguments would like us to believe.
In a way, Apple's victory could serve to be self-defeating in that it has clearly shown that the market place and the law will not tolerate those who attempt to piggy back off another's innovative ideas and designs.
As such, this judgment could force companies such as Samsung to take a considerably more proactive approach to innovation.
Furthermore, by using such strong tactics as it has, Apple may well have alienated not only those 'floating' consumers, but also loyal die-hard Apple customers, who feel that the brand is losing its character and personality, further opening the market.
This increase in innovation has already been seen and demonstrated by a number of phone manufacturers who have decided to fight the iPhone's dominance with innovation.
Both Nokia and Samsung have released new phones that push the boundaries of innovation.
Another point to take from this judgement is that innovation will be protected.
My fear was that if Samsung had won this case, a strong message would have been sent internationally that innovation cannot be protected.
The effect may have been to stifle innovation, the complete opposite intention of any decent intellectual property legal system.
And the key message to take from all of this? Intellectual property protection and management is key to all business' success with Apple (and many others before and after it) demonstrating that investing in innovation in the short term pays off in the long term.