Apple’s resounding patent victory over Samsung in a California courtroom last Friday is a blow to the competition, which now won’t be able copy Apple’s technology. But it is a win for competition. It will force everyone to think harder about turning the unimaginable into the normal.
And that’s what technology innovation is all about.
I am all for intellectual property (it’s how writers make a living) and no particular fan of software patents, which can be vague and overly broad. It’s a very tangled area of IP that in the modern-day tech industry has been a life-support system (think Kodak) and a means of protecting oneself against patent trolls (like that guy who tried to sue the World Wide Web). Patent troves, in the astute description of technologist Andy Baio, have also been weaponized in perverted campaigns to stifle innovation.
Apple and Samsung are duking it out all over the world — some 50 lawsuits in about 10 countries, by one reckoning — in a sort of forever war. Samsung got a favorable ruling just days before in a South Korean court. But the marquee case was the one in San Jose, California, where a jury found that Samsung had violated six of the seven patents Apple sought to defend – three software and three design – and awarded the company $1.05 billion.
The conventional wisdom is that a victory like this for a company like Apple is bad for consumers because it gives a virtual monopoly even more marketplace power.
Dan Gimor, director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication — and nobody’s fool — presents this case as clearly as I have seen: