Mike Isaac

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Apple’s Big Patent Win: A Shot Across the Bow of All Android Device Manufacturers

If there’s one takeaway from Apple’s massive win over Samsung in the most-watched patent trial of the year, it’s this: If you copy our stuff, we’ll go after you.

That’s the message delivered alongside the verdict on Friday afternoon, in which the jury found Samsung guilty of infringing upon six out of the seven Apple patents in question. The result? More than $1 billion in damages awarded to Apple (or $1,049,343,540 if you want to get nitpicky about it), and of course, bragging rights in what has been Apple’s longstanding claim that Samsung devices were “slavishly copies” of Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

And now that Apple’s day in court has validated most of its patents and claims, the technology giant is armed to the teeth with enough ammo to go after any and every OEM out there. It’s also fodder that could prove helpful in Apple’s existing ongoing litigation — specifically with HTC and Motorola. (That is, if the verdict stands; There’s still a lengthy appeals process to come, as promised almost immediately by Samsung.)

But as Apple’s PR chief Katie Cotton said in a statement issued on Friday, the biggest win here isn’t about the money: “We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy,” Cotton said. “The lawsuits between Apple and Samsung were about much more than patents or money. They were about values.”

Values that are now abundantly clear to everyone playing in the smartphone space. It’s Apple’s veritable shot across the bow of every single Android-based handset manufacturer, a question that each will have to ask itself going forward: Is our device stepping on Apple’s toes enough that the Cupertino beast will go to the mattresses again?

Dealing with those considerations could seriously slow handset makers like HTC, LG and Motorola to market, stymieing the once ceaseless flow of Android devices that continue to fill up carrier and big-box retailer shelves. And in a market where hesitation can cost you billions, it’s quite possibly a serious competitive advantage for Apple over other manufacturers.

That’s to say nothing of the potential impact it may have on Google, whose Android operating system relies on third-party manufacturers to run its software. While Google currently reigns supreme in the race for U.S. smartphone market share, any sluggishness on the part of its partner manufacturers could hurt Google’s position.

Google declined to comment on the ruling on Friday evening.

What’s more, hardware makers may look to other competing platforms such as Microsoft’s Windows Phone as a substitute to running Android software, something that could seriously aid Microsoft in its uphill battle for share. Windows Phone, while widely praised for its design sensibility and software, remains the underdog in what essentially amounts to a two-horse race between Apple and Google.

As senior Microsoft comms guy Bill Cox tweeted on Friday: “Windows Phone is looking goooood right now.”


Apple versus Samsung Full Coverage

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