After a tense and protracted legal battle between the two premier manufacturers of Smartphones, the jury adjourned, deliberation began, and a decision was reached – and just as the jury in South Korea (Samsung’s base of operations) reached an outcome favourable to their home-grown manufacturing giant, so too did the North American jury reach a decision which favoured their team of choice, Apple. And though the Cupertino-based company didn’t manage to reach the $2.75 billion settlement they sought, they still attained a success, with a fine of more than one billion dollars. Surprisingly given the great complexity of the case, the nine juror-strong contingency took a mere three days to reach a decision; and that decision was simple – that Samsung had infringed upon six of the seven Apple patents that were in dispute, with five of the six constituting wilful infringement. Though the South Korean conglomerate counter-sued, asserting that Apple had wilfully infringed upon five of its patents (which largely pertained to wireless internet access standards, in lieu of the more subjective design patents levied by Apple), the jury ruled against these assertions, allowing Apple to escape the legal tussle unscathed. This stands in stark opposition to the Seoul ruling a mere week ago, in which the judge ruled that Apple had infringed upon Samsung’s wireless patents, and that the mitigating factor of prior art (design precedent set within the industry) was enough to say that the similarity in appearance between Samsung’s Smartphone and tablet ranges and Apple’s iPhone/iPad was coincidental – or at least coincided with the shift in design across the entire industry. However, as a professor based in Singapore correctly pointed out, the South Korean standards of intellectual property are significantly less strict than in the US; there’s a long tradition of ‘borrowing’ ideas, and given Samsung’s history of manufacturing their designs in bulk as swiftly as possible (a tradition which has allowed them to supersede Apple in overall global sales, if not profit), it’s likely the South Korean chaebol was not able to vet their designs as comprehensively as an American company like Apple. Statements like this represent the sense of resignation that people now have regarding these Smartphone patent struggles; while Samsung has vowed to appeal the decision, and while the disputed devices have yet to be banned (a court case is set in December for this particular detail), a precedent has now been set, and it doesn’t bode well for Android manufacturers of any stripe, whether it be Sony or HTC. Apple has long insisted that the Android operating system is a spit in the face of their longstanding Smartphone iOS, and Steve Jobs’ famous declaration to “go thermonuclear” on Google, its godfather, has become a virtual holy war for the Cupertino-based company. While the design patents levied against Samsung (and concurrent court cases with companies such as HTC and Motorola) may have validity, most people versed in the topic now accept that Apple is waging a proxy-war – going for the appendages of the hydra before they tackle the beast itself, in the form of Google Inc. And with this precedent now set, Apple has a much greater chance of succeeding in a legal tussle with the search and software giant. But what does this mean for Samsung? Well, it may not mean that much, to be honest – while a $1 billion payout may have crippled many lesser Android manufacturers, Samsung are currently ranked as the top manufacturer globally, and even with a significant stock hit from the decision (7.5%, or over $12 billion) they’re unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon, considering their vast diversification into fields such as chipset, TV and tablet manufacturing. Their flagship device, the Samsung Galaxy S3, was exempt from the case, and its features are generally regarded to be distinct enough from Apple’s iPhone to not warrant any kind of sanction – a few tweaks here and there, a little time to cleanse the palate of the consumer, and Samsung should be back to doing what they’ve always done. But the significance of Apple’s victory shouldn’t be underestimated, nevertheless. Now that they have proven their mettle in court against their biggest manufacturing foe, they possess the tools needed to go head-to-head with their foe in the arena of software. We here at Mobile Madhouse confidently expect a dramatic showdown between Apple and Google to occur within the next year or so, an impression bolstered by Google’s recent decision to attack Apple in the form of subsidiary company Motorola Mobility. And rest assured, we’ll keep you up-to-date with all aspects of this trial, should it indeed break out!