Damages totaled $1.05 billion — less than half of the $2.5 billion that Apple requested — but the impact on Samsung’s business practices and those of other electronics manufacturers stands to be more profound if the ruling survives a likely appeal.
Together, Apple and Samsung control more than half of the fast-growing smartphone market, and both are major players in tablets, as well. The ruling has no immediate effect on the sale of either company’s products, but Apple has requested injunctions against the sales of products found to infringe on its patents. A hearing on the injunctions has been scheduled for Sept. 20.
“While a billion [dollars] is significant, Samsung has the balance sheet to cover it,” said Demetrios Anaipakos, a patent lawyer. “What’s more substantial is an injunction. If Samsung is required to pull devices off the market, that will be much more expensive.”
The speed and decisiveness of the ruling, which came after three days of deliberations, startled observers who had been bracing for a long wait as the jury worked its way through an uncommonly detailed set of questions involving several features and dozens of individual devices.
The jury found infringement by Samsung in six of seven patents raised by Apple in the suit. In five cases, the infringement was willful, the jury said. Shares of Apple, already the most highly valued U.S. company, jumped in after-market trading on news of its victory.
“Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer,” Samsung said Friday night after the ruling. “It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices. It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies.”
Apple had no immediate comment.
The ruling could lead to higher licensing fees, which companies pay one another to use proprietary technology. Such higher costs could eventually raise consumer prices and send more profits to Apple should it choose to license its technology.
“Clearly Apple is the winner here in financial terms, with things coming from licensing down the road,” said Al Hilwa, a technology analyst with International Data Corp.
He predicted that the net effect would be price increases for consumers. “Someone has to swallow these licensing fees,” he said.