Samsung vs. Apple: Case Closed

Reason to worry about the future of design innovation

The Apple v. Samsung case was decided late last week – concluding with a resounding victory for Apple in the form of a $1 billion penalty handed down by a jury for six infringements by Samsung on Apple patents. The Economist points out the lawsuit “shows how patents covering the look and feel of devices are increasingly being ‘weaponized’ by their holders.”

Those who’re concerned about the decision see it causing undue economic cost in it’s overly strict protection of design patents. Design patents cases by their very nature can establish precedent that can be so broad that they make it impossible to avoid infringement.

Juries in patent lawsuits – claims the Economist – will also often award very high monetary damages relative to the true economic harm that was caused by the alleged infringement. Unlike juries, well versed patent judges tend to award more reasonable damage totals because they’re able to apply more “nuanced” perspectives to such complex disputes.

Juries decided only 14% of patent infringement lawsuits in the 1980s – but have decided over half of patent infringement cases – a whopping 56% – since 2000.  That indicates that patent infringement cases will continue to have wide ranging ramifications to the tech industry as a whole – as different juries come to vastly disparate resolutions.

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