Apple patent win an Android killer?

Google, which licenses Android software to Samsung for the Korean company's hot-selling smartphones, may have reason to worry after Apple's big court victory.

By Aug 28, 2012 5:31PM

Apple (AAPL) won a major battle in its "thermonuclear war" against Google's (GOOG) Android last week when a nine-member jury said Samsung (SSNLF), the Korean handset manufacturer behind such best-selling smartphones as the Galaxy S series, deliberately infringed on six Apple patents, such as pinch-to-zoom features and "bounce-back" scrolling. (Google licenses a basic stock version of the operating system Android to phone-making partners, including Samsung.)

Now, Apple is seeking injunctions that would prohibit the sale of eight offending Samsung devices, including the Galaxy S II. While Samsung is expected to appeal, the ruling (which included $1 billion in damages) will surely turn the smartphone industry on its head in the coming months, forcing the Galaxy phone maker to either pay hefty licensing fees or redesign its products to further separate them from Apple devices. 

Post continues below.

Can Android persevere? 

Android is in big, big trouble: Maybe Samsung didn't intentionally blatantly copy Apple, says James Kendrick at ZDNet, but remember: Androids "didn't start selling in significant numbers until they adopted a design similar to the iPhone." For better or worse, "for a smartphone to sell in the millions, it must be similar in form and function to the iPhone." That's what consumers want. And Samsung can no longer make phones like that.

But Android isn't dead yet: This hurts, but it isn't a "game-changing loss" for Android, analyst Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. tells Forbes. The smartphone market is global. Product cycles are fast. Innovation happens rapidly. There are lots of factors at play here, and that means "it is very unlikely that Apple... or any third parties could strike a mortal blow to Android through litigation" alone.

Actually, Google has little to worry about: Google's hardware partners in the smartphone market are quietly panicking, says Sarah Mitroff at Wired. But Google itself maintains that Samsung's violations aren't included in Android's base code, and has gone to "great lengths" to keep its operating system distinct from iOS "with widgets, rotary and pull-tab lock screens, and an applications menu separate from the home screen." Maybe Apple will come after Android more directly in the future. But for now, Android appears to be safe.

More from The Week

Aug 28, 2012 5:50PM
It's not an Android killer. Most of  us would pay more for an Android than give our dollars to China's patsy, Apple.
Aug 28, 2012 6:41PM
F_ck Apple and the Judges they rode in on.
Aug 28, 2012 7:46PM
Apple has always been way over-priced and over-hyped.
Aug 28, 2012 6:13PM
 Remember, this was a perceived victory in the US. Not so in Korea, and hopefully the rest of the world is saner than San Jose, CA.

Interesting how apple has become exactly what it eschewed at its' inception-a money hungry corporate monopoly.

Never buy rotten apples!!!
Aug 28, 2012 7:08PM
Just bought a 4" galaxy player after comparing good tablets. Apple Ipod wanted $100 extra to go from 8 to 16 gigs of memory. Samsung 8 gig was a little less than comparable Ipod, but  THIRTY TWO extra gigs of memory is $20...micro SD card...My kid is going to school for IT/CS and says "Apple makes a great product...but they're douchebags." I've got to agree.
Aug 28, 2012 6:25PM
I woud never buy any overpriced Apple product.  I rather go back to m old flip-phone, it met all my needs.  3/4 of the smarphones features I don't even use.
Aug 28, 2012 9:29PM
This old retired geek is in the market for a smartphone and a tablet.  Initially both Android and Apple were on the table.  But after Apple's arrogant law suit against Android, everything Apple is off the table.  Frankly, I think Samsung has superior products at less cost.

Trying to patent "look and feel" is as ridiculous as trying to patent the look and feel of telephones, handguns, car headlights, the wheel, etc.  Apple reminds me of the old business axiom:  If you can beat your competition in the market place, sue them.

Aug 28, 2012 8:17PM
Will never own an iphone no matter what.  I'll go back to a basic cellphone and carry my lap tp before I bow down and pay homage to their crap!!
Aug 28, 2012 8:11PM
i dont care i will never own their over priced piece of garbage,the fact is everybody else has caught up to them,i have a galxy three love it ten times better than the iphone,and the android system is the best out their
Aug 28, 2012 7:03PM
Aug 28, 2012 6:18PM

Android is in big, big trouble. But Android isn't dead yet. Actually, Google has little to worry about.


Worst article ever.

Aug 28, 2012 11:19PM
After the way i was treated by Apple's customer service with the piece of junk computer I had from them I will never own their products again. They are over priced and once you buy their stuff they don't give a rat's butt about you anymore.
Aug 28, 2012 10:18PM

Apple is way over priced and the products never change and you can pay for every app as long as its an apple thats what you get money hungery bunch of ****s


Aug 28, 2012 11:38PM
For all you Iphone users, how's that 3G working for you? Can you download at 25Mbs, I think not...... 
Aug 29, 2012 11:25AM
Funny they say that the market wants all smart phones to be like the iPhone, but thats the farthest thing from what I want. I want my smartphone to be nothing like the iPhone with its heavy handed restrictions on what you can and cant do with it.
Aug 29, 2012 9:28AM
Funny that there is absolutely no mention that Google has filed suit against Apple. Unlike Apple, Google isn't being so petty, and are claiming patent infringement for 7 non-standard essential patents. This means that Google and their recently acquired Motorola, have filed a case for a patent that courts cannot legally force companies to license, meaning that if Google win this case, Apple could be forced to completely halt the use of this technology in their devices. But let's just keep that quiet because we wouldn't want to stop the pro-Apple propaganda machine of MSN.

Aug 29, 2012 9:33AM
This is such a poorly written, misinformed article. Such little things like repeatedly saying that Google licenses the Android system out. They don't. Android is Open sourced, you don't need a license for it.
Aug 29, 2012 7:53AM
Apple is not worth the price. Neither is Verizon. Used to be two of my favorite brands until they started gouging thier customers. You can throw all of the major satellite and cable tv companies in there with them too. I can do without.
Aug 29, 2012 11:56AM
Considering 25% of the parts in a iPhone are made by Samsung, I wonder how Samsung is going to pay that $1 Billion dollar tab?  Methinks Apple is going to see a price increase...
Aug 29, 2012 9:03AM
I so dislike Apple so I would love to see one of it's competitors make it big.  I think Apple started out with some great products but with the near monopoly it currently has on smartphones they charge outrageous prices for their products.  I would like it if they came down significantly so we truly have a fair market price for the devices.  Especially considering every 2 years or less they are "improved" upon. 
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