It’s decided: Samsung copied Apple’s phone and tablet form and features and now has to cough up more than $1 billion, not to mention be more careful going forward in how it designs its products.
While Apple fans may be happy about the ruling, which came from a nine-person Silicon Valley jury on Friday after only fewer than three days of deliberation, lots of other people are wondering how the verdict is good for consumers. For example, business magnate Mark Cuban tweeted, "[Thanks] Apple it's now mandatory for tech companies to sue each other. Prices go up, competition [and] innovation suffer."
Maybe, or maybe not. The iconic iPhone and iPad are undeniably innovative and difficult to improve upon, but if mobile device manufacturers are forced to try harder to keep away from Apple designs it might result in some interesting phone and tablets from other companies going forward.
And not every phone company is shaking in its boots.
Check Nokia, for example. If you’ve ever held one of its Windows Phones in your hand there’s no question it’s nothing like an iPhone.
While Android and iOS interfaces both involve pages of small app icons that you swipe, Windows Phone features large and colorful "live" tiles that morph as your phone is synced with real-time information. And the Nokia form factor itself is unique—when I tested a Nokia Lumia 900 several months ago I appreciated its sharp edges and quality materials—opposed to my Samsung Galaxy Nexus, with its iPhone-like rounded corners and cheap-feeling plastic build.
Robert Barr, executive director of the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Law and Technology, agrees that Nokia’s Windows Phone user interface is distinct compared with iPhone, reports The New York Times.
“Nokia, a longtime maker of phones, also has a thick portfolio of patents to protect itself. For Microsoft and Nokia, which are trying to make a comeback in smartphones, this design distinction is a clear advantage in the internecine patent wars sweeping the industry as much as it is a marketing advantage,” the Times reports.
Stay tuned. During a September 5 event in New York, Nokia and Microsoft are expected to announce a high-end Lumia phone, probably with a new version of Windows Phone OS. Nokia’s annual developers’ conference also takes place September 5 and 6 in Finland.