US technology giant Apple’s victory in a patent lawsuit against South Korean Samsung means that in future companies will have to work much harder to come up with original products, experts say.
Specialists in technology field praise Microsoft’s Windows Phone for looking almost nothing like the Apple software for iPhones and iPads. Reviewers approve of the phone for its fresh and distinctive design, as well as a brand new system for using phone functions.
But the phones similar to Apple devices, including the Lumia 900 from Nokia, have not sold well. Therefore, experts raise concern that the future of innovation could be in danger.
The court ruled on August 24 that Samsung smartphone and tablet products violated a number of Apple patents protecting several designs and functions — including the rectangular shape and rounded edges of the iPhone and the pinch-to-zoom gesture.
However, some experts claim that it will barely be possible not to copy the zoom-in function in future.
On the one hand, the court ruling could force mobile companies to focus more on design rather than simply act as copycats, says Bill Flora, creative director at a design firm Tectonic.
But he also stresses that the decision could create a “minefield” for product designers, who would be constantly second-guessing whether functions will step on someone else’s patents.
Similarly, Flora is concerned that Apple’s patent on the pinch-to-zoom function covers a gesture that now is so common that touch screen products without it would be like cars with square or triangular steering wheels.
“It’s very much like a circular steering wheel,” he says.
The mobile device market can indeed become increasingly complex, says Charlie Kindel, another former Microsoft executive.
According to him, software developers already have a complicated mix of mobile devices to make apps for, and the pressure on manufacturers to design devices differently could make it even harder. Also, consumers would most probably be confused over which phones have which apps and functions.
Timothy Holbrook, a law professor at Emory University, points out the verdict would affect companies depending on their willingness to take risks. “Let’s try to get as close as possible without infringing,” he says.
The court also awarded Apple more than $1 billion in damages. It will also be decided whether to take some Samsung devices off shelves.
Samsung is set to appeal the verdict, reports The Telegraph.