Will Apple’s sweeping, yet still preliminary, patent victory over Samsung have a positive or negative impact on Android? Will it have any impact at all? Will it be the death of competition or a boon for competition? Opinions are all over the place.
Over the weekend Google issued a statement (via TheVerge) that the decision will have no impact on “core Android” features or capabilities:
The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims. Most of these don’t relate to the core Android operating system, and several are being re-examined by the US Patent Office. The mobile industry is moving fast and all players — including newcomers — are building upon ideas that have been around for decades. We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don’t want anything to limit that.
As I wrote over the weekend, I agree and don’t think this verdict will have a significant, near-term impact on Android. The patents in question were relatively specific and covered only a few areas of functionality. Yet Google and its partners will still probably make some changes to steer clear of Apple as a result.
There is also ongoing litigation between Motorola (Google) and Apple and Apple and Samsung that could represent the sequel to Friday’s verdict. These other legal actions (as well as any future actions Apple may be contemplating now) are wild cards.
In addition, if Apple succeeds in getting a permanent injunction against some of Samsung’s products that may represent another shock to the Android ecosystem.
Rather than a negative for consumers I would argue that in the long run the verdict probably is a good thing for consumer choice. That’s because Apple’s competitors, including Google-Android, will be compelled to create different and new user experiences. That may seem counter-intuitive but a Samsung victory would have promoted continued mimicry.
Right now, however, it’s difficult to predict how all the legal actions will play out because they haven’t all run their course. Regardless, I don’t believe that Friday’s verdict represents a fundamental threat to Android.
Apple must prove all of the following to succeed in obtaining a permanent inuction against these products:
- that it has suffered an irreparable injury;
- that remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury;
- that, considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and the defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and
- that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction
It was previously the case that a permanent injunction was almost automatic upon a successful showing of patent validity and infringement. However that changed after a 2006 US Supreme Court case called eBay Incorporated v. MercExchange L.L.C.
That case placed a burden on successful litigants to meet the four-factor test above before the offending products could be “taken off the shelves.”