May 3, 2014 Last Updated 9:49 am

Apple wins a pyrrhic victory against Samsung in U.S. court

The amount of time and effort that went into Apple’s latest case against Samsung, and by proxy Google and Android, produced a win in a San Jose, California court yesterday when a jury returned a verdict in a patent case that will require Samsung to pay Apple $119.6 million. It was a pyrrhic victory, however, as the award was far below what was wanted by Apple.

Using a blunt instrument, the U.S. court system, in a hometown environment, Apple could not get a jury to agree to hand out a large damage award to the South Korean smartphone maker for infringing two Apple patents, awarding Apple less than 10 percent of what the company wanted.

But if one expects these cases to subside one will be disappointed. Like the defense industry, the patent case industry now has its own momentum, and it will take a very strong chief executive to slow down the lawyers. Expect more cases over the next few years.

Meanwhile, neither Apple nor Samsung issued official press releases concerning the jury decision, a sign perhaps that both companies realize that the public is bored with all this infighting. Both Apple and Samsung (and Google) continue to grow sales and release products. A court decision, as big as it sounds, that would add the equivalent of .0026 percent more revenue to Apple’s quarterly revenue performance will hardly matter to anyone other than the real winners – the lawyers.

Apple’s executive team seems completely to be misreading the iPhone-Android landscape. Apple won, it introduced a brand new product in 2007 that helped it become America’s largest company. It has been making billions of dollars in profits, and stowing away billions of dollars in cash. Yet, for reasons beyond the scope of normal reasoning, Apple believes it lost when a competitor came in, and to its thinking, stole the secret sauce.

But this is not the way the world sees things: Apple’s iPhone is what it is, no one can change that. It won that war the day it was launched (actually, I think the turning point was the introduction of the app store and subsidized pricing). But winning patent cases won’t help it win the next war. What Apple is attempting is the equivalent of instant replay in sports, and Apple wants the umps to look at replays from games played in 2007. I’m sure they are being sincere in their requests, but everyone else has moved on.

  • jjredfish 4 years ago

    Patents aren’t “moral” entities that should be “shared”. They are legal property. Like your house or your car. They are owned. If someone steals your property, it is not “wrong” of you to take legal action. It is your right. It is not “beyond the scope of normal reasoning” for Apple to do this, and it is not new or unusual. It is exactly the way intellectual property has been handled for centuries.

    If it was a pyrrhic victory for Apple, who got 5.5% of what they were asking and $120 million, what was it for Samsung who got 2.3% of what they were asking – a measly $158k – and will have to PAY $120 million?