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Apple Wins Patent Ruling As Jury Finds Samsung Infringes (techcrunch.com)
319 points by irunbackwards on Aug 24, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 354 comments

This is both unsurprising and somewhat meaningless as there will be an appeals process that will last for months and possibly years.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that Samsung made their products to look like Apple products. They changed their icon styles and other UI elements away from Android standards to match the Apple style.

Some of the things Apple invented and patented on like pinch to zoom and so on Samsung used or copied via Android and or their own UI skin on top of Android.

You just have to look at Windows Phone 7 or Windows 8 or Web OS or Blackberry to realize that you don't have to copy Apple to make a good or great smartphone. Samsung is much closer with the Galaxy S3, too bad they are still cranking out iPad clones with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the like.

I think it is fair to say that Samsung may have crossed some lines as far as "trade dress" goes.

But did Apple really invent pinch to zoom? Jeff Han demonstrated pinch to zoom gestures at TED in 2006, Microsoft Surface in 2007 before the iPhone was released, and I've seen various forms of "pinch to zoom" on different tablets and smart board applications.

I think that Apple did a good job developing some multi-touch input standards, like pinch to zoom as an OS standard rather than just a feature specific to an application. I don't think you should be able to patent a standard and it is counter-intuitive to developing a standard to begin with. If we had patents on desktop GUI user input standards like right click, ctrl key modifiers like ctrl-scroll to zoom, etc. then using computers would be a much bigger PITA.

EDIT: Many have rightly pointed out that Apple was first to file and that Jeff Han's work was too close to the filing date to qualify as prior art - However, I was simply asking whether he truly believed Apple "invented" pinch to zoom. Legally you can argue that Apple holds a valid patent as demonstrated by them winning this case - but I think it is invalid to say they "invented" anything as intuitive as pinch to zoom which has been demonstrated in a variety of prototypes, tablets, and applications over 2 decades.


Does anyone know why Jeff Han's work was not emphasized more as prior art? (there was also more at the time, but I can't recall specifics now).

> If we had patents on desktop GUI user input standards like right click, ctrl key modifiers like ctrl-scroll to zoom, etc. then using computers would be a much bigger PITA.

This is the key right here. I don't think everyone fully understands what is happening around these UI patents in the rush to defend someone's "inventions" in the face of would-be-counterfeiters.

One of the most important aspects of patents is that they do not account for independent invention. Leave Apple out of your mind for a minute. Imagine your startup is developing a web or mobile app, and you come up with a nice way of presenting some kind of responsive UI that's well tailored to the data your app displays. It follows naturally from your data model, you end up with some really nice UX, and you get some internet buzz because it's a distinguishing feature of your app (see: pull to refresh, et al).

You will be liable if some company filed a patent for that idea 10 years ago, even if you've never heard of them or their product.

What's particularly insidious about these patents is that there's no real mechanism described here, like you'd have to provide for a mechanical device. Instead, you can get away with describing a "computing device" that "receives user input" and acts on it it in a fairly generic way, and suddenly you have a patent on not an invention, but a whole class of interaction or a generic human movement paired with a particular action on screen.

And you won't know you've infringed until you're sued!

Copyright and trademark have these well covered. They allow for independent invention and are much more specific to a particular expression of an idea. Regardless of copying and just deserts, regardless of the fact that this wasn't going to be settled in this case, no one here should be cheering the current standard for acceptable software patents.

This is independent claim 8 from 7844915, which (IANAL and everything we have so far is based on breathless reporting) was found infringing:

A machine readable storage medium storing executable program instructions which when executed cause a data processing system to perform a method comprising:

- receiving a user input, the user input is one or more input points applied to a touch-sensitive display that is integrated with the data processing system;

- creating an event object in response to the user input; determining whether the event object invokes a scroll or gesture operation by distinguishing between a single input point applied to the touch-sensitive display that is interpreted as the scroll operation and two or more input points applied to the touch-sensitive display that are interpreted as the gesture operation;

- issuing at least one scroll or gesture call based on invoking the scroll or gesture operation;

- responding to at least one scroll call, if issued, by scrolling a window having a view associated with the event object; and

- responding to at least one gesture call, if issued, by scaling the view associated with the event object based on receiving the two or more input points in the form of the user input.

The last part in particular appears to give Apple exclusive right to direct manipulation of an object on screen via multitouch, since you can't match pixels to touch points without scaling.

This is why patents were not meant for a class of ideas, only actual implementations of ideas. No one deserves a 20 year monopoly on all multitouch interactions involving scaling, and this sure as hell does not promote the progress of the science and arts. I'm eager to hear how the "it encourages innovation by forcing them to come up with new approaches!" crowd suggests designing around this.

If we're going to have to have software patents, we should at least have to do it right, providing extremely specific descriptions of object models and event systems, the same way you have to give diagrams and descriptions of how the new crankshaft you invented physically connects to the motor. That would simultaneously make them much less useful and make them actually analogous to patents of physical devices.

Exactly. One way to explain the lunacy of claim 8 to a layperson would be by example: imagine if Edison's patent for the light bulb had covered any possible means of turning electricity into light, rather than a specific method involving a conductive filament in an evacuated bulb.

Jeff Han demoed it in late 2006, merely months before iPhone introduction. Apple started working on iPhone (and multitouch screens) in the early 00s and (I'm recalling from memory) they filed their multitouch patent in 2004 or 2005.

In addition they purchased Fingerworks, who began working on capacitive multitouch sensing and gestures in the 1990s. I believe the founders of Fingerworks held several patents in that area--and still work at Apple today.

I have a Fingerworks touchpad and it is amazing. Apple is slowly rolling the gestures in their products. For instance with Lion the "click and drag" gesture went from a double-tap-and-hold (Apple standard for years) to a three-finger drag (what it is on my Fingerworks pad).

There is a big misunderstanding of patents. Patents don't cover ideas, but inventions. "Pinch to zoom" is a feature, and the idea of doing that is not patentable by Apple or Jeff Han. It is the implementation that is patentable, and Apple's touch technology is very different from Jeff Hans'.

It's quite possible that both could legitimately patent their inventions.... just as the rotory and the piston engines can both be patented even though both are "internal combustion engines".

See my sibling post for the actual claim. The distinction you make is exactly the problem with software patents: the way they can be written (and apparently enforced), they are covering ideas, not inventions.

Your understanding disagrees with current law.

Current law, as upheld by juries lacking sufficient knowledge, disagrees with the intent of the law.

Patents don't cover ideas, they cover implementation. Literally if your way of implementing something is the non-obvious way to make something more efficient, you are granted the right to exclusive use of it.

Apple, by act of jury, now has a patent on the idea and not the implementation. The patent is on a capacitive touch screen, but is a jury going to uphold a patent if it is an optical touchscreen? What if I use pinch-zoom on my Kinect?

... in the sense that...?

It doesn't. It only seems to because people on HN, reddit, etc, don't know how to read patent claims.

Ah yes, that old canard. "No time to explain, but you're wrong."

Please feel free to respond to my post and tell me exactly how I misinterpreted that claim.

A claim is not a series of tubes...

Seriously, though, people on HN, etc, read claims far more broadly than a court would. They tend to see "rubber band effect" and think Apple patented all rubber band effects.

Claims start out broadly, and are narrowed by additional elements of the claim. "A rubber band effect THAT: a)... b)... c)..." You can't just ignore (a), (b), (c) because they narrow the boundaries of the claimed invention.

I just want to remind everyone in tech in the US that reading patents in your field is a very bad idea. The system is so dysfunctional that you may be infringing a lot (which should never have been granted, but you can't afford to fight) but becoming aware of them makes it "wilful" and can triple the damages from a suit. This doctrine is why Samsung's penalty is so high.

My reading is that the $1bn figure excludes any multiples for wilfulness.

> I think it is invalid to say they "invented" anything as intuitive as pinch to zoom which has been demonstrated in a variety of prototypes, tablets, and applications over 2 decades.

The lunacy here is that apple wasn't even granted the patent over a specific gesture. IE pinch=zoom in and spread=zoom out or vice versa. It's that the movement of pinching/spreading has been patented here in all and every application of the gesture as it would inherently be used for zoom function, despite it being demonstrated prior to that date.

This is like Microsofts multi-click patent, that patents all mouse clicks that can have different functionality. short/long/multiple clicks.

It's like granting Kleenex a patent over all facial tissues and the right to use a piece of tissue for your face. The only competitive idea being a facial cloth like a hankie.

The Apple Patent #7,812,826 seems to have been applied for in December 2006 and under US rules at the time the priority date could be 12 months earlier.

This makes it quite possible that TED 2006 would be too late to be prior art.

Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent was filed on December 29, 2006, and covers a multitouch display that a) detects two contacts; b) which perform a gesture; c) which affects an image; d) and then the contacts disconnect; e) after which a second set of contacts is detected; f) which perform another operation within a set period of time.

In other words, patent #7,812,826 only applies when you pinch to zoom and then pinch to zoom again within a predefined amount of time.

Wouldn't it be great to just program things without worrying about patenting what you've done or whether someone else has patented it?

I understand the appeal of this line of argument, and to an extent I agree with it. I think independent invention is a real problem with patents as applied to software. Yet, Samsung didn't independently invent a phone that diverges from the Android default to look more like the iPhone.

Wouldn't it be great to just copy successful devices without paying a designer?

"pinch to zoom" is obvious. It's practically the only way you could zoom things on a touch screen.

It's like patenting the steering wheel.

Don't pretend it's innovative or took any time whatsoever to come up with.

It's blatantly obvious and should never have been granted.

If it's obvious, why didn't it exist on any of the touchscreen products which went before the iPhone?

How many of those touchscreens could detect multiple touches at once? That's a prerequisite for doing pinch-to-zoom with a capacitive touchscreen.

It likely existed on the first light-pen devices from the 80s. Apple just happened to popularize it.

MSFT just recently acquired Perceptive Pixel last month, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perceptive_Pixel.

[Jeff Han's company, and maker of multi-touch user interfaces].

Presumably these patents were still pending during alot of the timeline, as US 7,844,915 has only been out since Nov 2010. It Languished at the patent office for 3.5 yrs?

edit: language/clarifications

Apple has done a good job of persuading people that this case was about protecting innovation and about Samsung's specific alleged infringements of their patents. But this is nothing more than a smoke screen for their ongoing proxy war on Android.

They've refused to compete with Android on price, features, and form factors and the market has punished them for it. Expect more attacks on Android seeking ridiculous damages for non-essential details of mobile UI design.

However, I strongly suspect Apple is going to regret these tactics in the long run. Once the tiger is out of the cage there's no telling who he will bite.

Apart from the specifics of this or any other court case involving Apple attacking Samsung, I find the desire to defend Samsung odd. Obviously they copied Apple as much as they felt they could get away with. They did this because it was a very conservative way to make a lot of money.

This isn't an admirable strategy. It's annoying. It's precisely the strategy that major movie studios use to give us one boring, risk-free "blockbuster" after another. The other day I read a history of the making of White Men Can't Jump:


The head of Fox at the time, Joe Roth, mentions, "That movie wouldn't get made today. Us moviemaking guys, the studios, have less courage to make a movie like that today with the kind of racial, sexual overtones." It's sad. I would appreciate a big budget movie studio that did not consistently churn out the safest derivative crap they can.

I do appreciate that there's one consumer electronics company that attempts and succeeds at novel, high risk products. Of course, there's a good chance that risk taking spark died recently, but I have appreciated its presence until now.

Maybe patents are bad, but I don't think is a case where that stance holds much emotional appeal other than to those who like to see Apple lose. Most people think Samsung clearly did something shady here and deserves to be punished.

I don't have any particular loyalty to Samsung but these cases set a chilling precedent for the platform that looks likely to dominate the computing industry for at least the next decade. There's much more at stake here than a few billion dollars and a few icons and scrolling techniques.

If this continues we're going to spend the next decade tiptoeing around every trivial implementation detail of mobile UI instead of boldly exploring new ideas. Apple's successful use of the broken patent system sends exactly the wrong signal.

Not only that, its going to set innovating in the mobile space back even farther. While Apple outlines every decision meticulously for planned obsolescence, Google and others take a more throw something out there, see if it works and run with it approach. With both strongly competing it pushes the entire industry forward faster.

It's easy to argue that they aren't competing. Apple innovates in their sphere of innovation, their competitors copy them and produce cheap knock-offs attempting to cash in Apple's R&D.

It's not competition when one company does ALL the innovation and other companies just copy them and try to win on price.

It would be competition if Google tried to out-do Apple, but they don't.

Samsung doesn't compete with Apple either. They are more similar to counterfeiters who sell black-market Oakley, Nike, and Prada stuff in alleyways.

Competition would be if Samsung improves on Apple's designs to create something superior.

> Samsung doesn't compete with Apple either. They are more similar to counterfeiters who sell black-market Oakley, Nike, and Prada stuff in alleyways.

My goodness. Samsung designs may imitate Apple's to some debatable extent, but they're not labeling their products with an Apple logo. The way I see it, TV makers imitate each others' designs and features all the time, and so do car makers and fridge makers.

> It's not competition when one company does ALL the innovation and other companies just copy them and try to win on price.

Your generalisation is extreme. Surely Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG, etc. do innovate (with reference to their legacy in the wider field of electronics)?

And they are certainly competing. The very definition of competition is to sell a product that is a close substitute for another. Your assertion seems to make innovation the only thing that matters for competition, which it isn't.

Society would be better off generally if competition (of all forms) increased in more markets.

Not to mention, sometimes "innovation" just means innovative pricing schemes. Not innovation in actual technology. Google has been able to price their devices more competitively, which in and of itself is an innovation.

> > It's not competition when one company does ALL the innovation and other companies just copy them and try to win on price.

Zipcar. I just paid $137.39 for an Audi Q5. Audi can't do that. Price is usually the result of innovation, the tip of the iceberg. Otherwise we'd wouldn't be driving cars or, hopefully soon, flying into space. If anyone offers an iPhone 5 cheaper than Apple I'm sold! Better yet, make a phone better than the iPhone AND sell it cheaper!

There's a difference between charging a lower price because you have innovated, and charging a lower price because someone else paid for your R&D.

Samsung is able to charge less money because they didn't have to pay for R&D, market testing, etc. They just copied a successful product.

Wow, you really know your definitions! Way to go!

> It's not competition when one company does ALL the innovation and other companies just copy them and try to win on price.

When I bought my Samsung Galaxy SII, it was about the same price as an iPhone.

> It would be competition if Google tried to out-do Apple, but they don't.

That's your personal opinion. I personally prefer Android to iOS and so do many people.

You don't get it.

Samsung COPIED Apple, so when you enjoy your Samsung phone, you are enjoying the fruits of Apple's research, development, design, market testing, etc.

The majority of the creative, intellectual substance that is contained in the Samsung phones originated in Cupertino. Point being that if we want companies to create new things rather than just copy old things, we need to give greater rewards to the actual creative people who take risks and come up with the new ideas. The people who jump on board and say "I can copy that!" really deserve no consideration at all.

are you serious, so initially Samsung copied Apple theres nothing you can see that Apple copied from Android ? Look at IOS5 and you will see a lot they copied.

"If this continues we're going to spend the next decade tiptoeing around every trivial implementation detail of mobile UI instead of boldly exploring new ideas."

But wouldn't this then spark greater innovation? Innovation doesn't come from slavishly imitating what came before. Revolutionary new designs and UI will come from those bold enough to seek vision that has no chance of infringing upon previous patents.

No, it won't. It will hurt innovation because every damn thing is going to have to go through a committee of lawyers before being approved, and it will hurt innovation because the idea that innovation always involves making something brand-new and from whole cloth is fucking retarded.

Also the idea of a patent for pinch-and-zoom makes about as much sense as a patent for 'a vehicle powered by steam'. Patents are about implementation, not ideas.

But what if this spurns designers and engineers to create designs that are completely different from before, because anything too similar is out of bounds? Wouldn't that drive them to think more different and wildly and uniquely? We may get a lot of stupid failed attempts out of this, but at least it will put the kibosh on "me-too" designs.

Maximizing the implemented portion of the solution space is not the same as innovating.

What did Samsung do that is shady, that Apple itself didn't? Apple was the first to market with the most-polished device, but all one has to do is look at the old Palm Pilot to know that they completely ripped off the design and layout. Who cares? Apple was already winning on their merits. I have a feeling people will look back on this as a major turning point in Apple's history. They are starting to look like a paranoid ruler worried about an imminent attack instead of playing offense they way they used to.

but all one has to do is look at the old Palm Pilot to know that they completely ripped off the design and layout.

You're forgetting about the Newton.

Right, any computer with square icons arranged in a table format must have originated from the Newton. How could anybody have figured out to put icons into rows and columns?

But seriously, Palm had an SDK and a phone with a touch interface and downloadable apps a good three to four years before the iPhone was introduced. Any brick with a touch interface does not fall into that category I'm afraid.

You wrote "they completely ripped off the design and layout" of the Palm Pilot. The iOS layout owes as much, if not more to the Newton than to the Pilot.

Any brick with a touch interface does not fall into that category I'm afraid.

Absolutely. For example, Microsoft managed to develop a touch phone interface that owes very little to the iPhone. Hopefully Samsung can do the same.

The Newton had an SDK, a vibrant developer community, and a user interface that was one big touchscreen rather than having physical buttons - in 1993. Palm actually got its start selling software for the Newton, specifically their "Graffiti" recognition engine.

If you want to argue about who had specific features first, Newton will usually win - PalmOS was stripped-down to be cheap and dependent on the PC it docked to whereas Newton was conceived as a standalone device so Newton could do things like print or send and receive a fax from day one - Palm got most of those features later if at all.

> I do appreciate that there's one consumer electronics company that attempts and succeeds at novel, high risk products.

Yeah; I like Nintendo, too. Oh, wait: were you talking about another singular company?

This case is about the right to sell what is analogous to the movie theatre, the projector, and the camera. Apple found a good way to package them together, and Samsung imitated this, but offered something nevertheless different: a more open and distributed system.

It is Apple and their App store policy that will drive the manufacture of cookie cutter Apps on their homogenous environment.

> the market has punished [Apple] for it

You're serious? They take 73% of the profit in smartphone market, with Samsung at the second place (26%) and HTC, third (1%), their stock is booming, they have more money in the bank than all of their competitors combined (they can buy Samsung, HTC and Dell and shut them down and still have a few billion dollars left).

I'd call that reward, not punishment.


This is what I don't get: people applaud Apple for their massive profit margins when in reality it just shows how they're screwing the consumer. Does nobody care about the betterment of the general public -us!?- around here? By buying products with huge profit margins you're spending money on features that you're not getting. And THAT is why I refuse to buy Apple products.

Trade is generally a positive-sum game. The fact that the producer makes a profit means there is a producer surplus but the fact that consumers buy it means there is a consumer surplus too. The general public thinks iPhones are worth more than what Apple is charging, so they buy it.

By buying products with large profit margins you're sending a message that you want the company to stay in business and grow and keep doing what it's doing.

> By buying products with huge profit margins you're spending money on features that you're not getting.

No, part of what makes Apple so valuable is that they resist adding more "features" than the bare minimum, in favor of trying to preserve their best feature: simplicity.

'Consumer surplus' is an economic term, and it's simply a calculated or derived quantity. The fact of the matter is, marketing can change opinions on what a product is worth, or whether it should be bought. Surplus, in other words, is very much manipulable by marketing and advertisement. Consumers think iPhones are worth buying because Apple managed to convince them, and their friends, of it. Not because they may inherently provide more utility/enjoyment over their lifespan than a product from a competitor.

I don't mean to imply Apple products are overpriced in general. I mostly just prefer to discount/devalue marketing when making decisions on what to buy, and instead focus on the features that are important to me.

The standard free market theory is that profit attracts competitors that enter the market and drive down those profits. They would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for those pesky patents.

Well, I enjoy using my Apple gears tremendously and they enable to do a lot of things that I wouldn't be able to do otherwise. I'd rather pay a $400 premium on a MacBook and have peace of mind for two years. People pay 100 times more for cars and housing.

Obviously I'm not implying that you or others don't care about 'peace of mind' and are cheap bastards who never pay for anything :) - it just happens that you don't find a MacBook or iPad or iPhone as valuable for you and your lifestyle as I do, and purchase what suits you best.

So I guess you must hate Samsung product now, since they have started to make a good profit as well?

That is one of the more ridiculous reasons for not buying Apple.

Samsung doesn't have 70% profit margins on their mobile devices: that's highway robbery.

How many owners of iPhones and iPads feel "screwed"?

That's just it: Apple has managed to market its products, and especially its mobile devices, as better-no-matter-what. They're consistently behind the punch and offer a pretty feature-dilute experience.

It's also been mentioned that you pay for the "peace of mind," but can anybody here actually quantify what that means on a mobile device? I also find this really ironic because this comes after antenna-gate which most people seem to have forgot. We're consistently told by the media and Apple's marketing that buying from them is a safe bet, has this ever actually meant anything?

Their market share is rapidly falling wrt Android. There's no way they can maintain that profit share if this continues and they know it.

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I disagree. I find Apple's strategy more solid and sustainable than their competitors'.

BTW, I just wanted to say you have a GitHub link on your HN profile that leads to a 404. I thought maybe that was a mistake and you might want to fix it :)

It seems like essentially the same strategy that lost them the desktop wars after taking an early lead with the Mac. I don't see why we should expect things to be any different this time, although their vertical approach is better suited to mobile.

Thanks for heads up on github. Fixed.

Apple can't really win on market share or their business model would be impossible to sustain on anti-trust grounds alone. The iPod was the only exception/fluke and IIRC there were some rumblings from the EU about it. The Bush DOJ was too 'business friendly' to worry much about it. Apple could make a market-share grab anytime they wanted to but they also realize it's suicide to do so. Better to own 30% of the market and 75% of the profits than 75% of the market and 30% of the profits. I don't know if they can sustain that but they probably won't shake things up until they are forced to. Don't mess with a good thing right?

...that lost them the desktop wars after taking an early lead with the Mac

The fact is that they never took an early lead with the Mac [1]. They did take an lead with iPod. See how that worked out quite well for them.

[1] http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/08/from-altair-to-ipad-...

>The fact is that they never took an early lead with the Mac

@eddieplan You might not be old enough to remember but the macintosh and earlier apple computers were the first commercially successful computers for the home market.

I can't see a meaningful analogy with the old Apple; to assert one is to assume that totally divergent situations (Apple owning a market wholesale, versus being a niche player) and companies (Apple 2012 is very different from Apple 1998) somehow combine in a way that papers over the very real changes that have happened internal and externally.

If by "strategy" you mean patenting obvious and likely things that already existed and then litigating the crap out of people, you may be right...this trial has set a precedent that might make that sustainable for them.

>They take 73% of the profit in smartphone market

I chuckle every time I hear this. How much profit of the web server market does Microsoft take with IIS vs. the free alternatives like Apache and Nginx?

Who wins in the Server OS market of Windows Server vs. Linux/BSD? Who dominates the web dev tools market of Visual Studio vs. Eclipse/etc. ?

The same arguments you make can be made against the above too.

The idea of profit share as the metric was hyped up by the Apple fan blog network of Gruber-Siegler-Asymco etc. First, when Android had lower market share, they made numerous claims and 'analysis' that said Android could never overtake iPhone. When that did happen, for some time, they added the iPad to the mix by making it iOS vs. Android instead of just the mobile market and declared Apple the winner. And then later came up with the profitshare argument. Looks like the only metric that matters is what makes Apple the winner.

One example of a bizarre comparison(sneering and snarky as usual) http://daringfireball.net/linked/2012/07/27/amzn

Since when did profit become the one and true metric?

I realize that they're writing what their audience wants to read, my only peeve is how much airtime their posts and arguments are given on HN. Meanwhile Paul Thurrott's Winsupersite is hellbanned on HN just for being a Microsoft watcher site. Draw your own conclusions.

Since when did profit become the one and true metric?

This is like wondering whether you'd be better off running a grocery store rather than a software business. Profit is the only metric. The idea that this notion started with Apple is strange.

Of course profit is ultimately the metric that counts.

But time and time again in the tech world we've seen that it's much easier to build something cheap and ubiquitous and eat your way up the value chain than it is to start at the top and try to tenaciously cling there. It didn't work for Apple last time and I think it's starting to slip for them again now.

Which companies would you give as examples of "eat your way up the value chain"?

Microsoft (against IBM, DEC, Novell, SCO (the original, Microsoft's own spawn).

Sun, against IBM and AT&T.

Red Hat, against Sun.

Salesforce against bespoke business solutions.

Google Apps against Microsoft Office.

Gmail against MS Exchange.

More generally, read/refer to Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma.

What makes you include GMail in that list? It has, by all measures, failed to move up the value chain, its revenue is completely eclipsed by that of Exchange. (Disclaimer: I work at MS.)

My question in response would be: what accounts has Microsoft lost to Gmail in the past couple of years?

From my connections, I'm aware that much of the startup world is on some mix of Gmail for Domains, Google Apps, and/or Mac for desktops/laptops. Microsoft really doesn't play.

Granted, those are small accounts, but I've also seen some household name established businesses ditch Exchange for Gmail. And in a world for which changing enterprise platforms almost universally elicits dread, the announcements were met with cheers. Really loud cheers.

And to answer in part: again, read Christensen. It's not that the cheap competition generates more revenue (though in some cases it does). By that metric you're making the same strategic error as recoiledsnake. It's that by growing marketshare, disruptive innovations suck the revnue out of the market.

It's what Red Hat did to Sun. It's what Craigslist did to classified advertising.

It's what Gmail's doing to Exchange.

The PC industry devouring the server and workstation market is the most salient example.

Profit is the only metric.

Profit is not the only metric. Market share is a valid metric to compare products (as long as you have a sustainable position).

If android was selling five times as many units as apple, but with only 15% the margin, then apple would still be the most profitable, but would be losing the mindshare war.

Eventually devs would be concentrating their efforts on android first, and perhaps only for android. In the long term, marketshare is the more important metric.

This is '99-bubble "sell the eyeballs" thinking. The point of business is profit. You can defer profitability, for instance to achieve market share in a market where having the greatest share promises future profits. But for that to be meaningful, you have to have a story about how buying market share with lower profits is going to offer a return on investment in the future. What's Samsung's story?

You must have missed the part where I wrote as long as you have a sustainable position.

In the case of Apple vs Samsung, the smart phone market is at a different level of maturity that lack of market share is not going drive developers away from iOS, but if we were much earlier in the market then it would be a significant issue for them.

What's Samsung's story?

I don't know what sort of margins Samsung is making on their devices, but they don't have to make as much per device as Apple to still be a success.

He's wondering why Gruber, who supported the "losing" side in Apple vs Microsoft (as measured over any timeframe besides the last 12 months or so) had such a damascene conversion. I doubt he'd have any issue with a weirdo that consistently supported the most profitable corporation in any market. It woukd still be weird, but at least consistently weird.

Looking at only the earnings reports and comparing profits is meaningless. If you follow the Gruber link it shows that Amazon's net profit is only $7M. That does not mean Amazon is having trouble making any money. It's that it's costs of expanding are swallowing the profits. Apple has a ton of cash in the bank lying around because they don't see a need for using it. Directly comparing the numbers makes no sense whatsoever except to people who's profit depends on telling people what they want to hear. i.e Apple this week is better than X in Y metric and hence Apple wins and X sucks, where X and Y are carefully picked.

Wasn't it just yesterday that Gruber was comparing revenues from a hardware business(iPhone) to Microsoft's primarily software business, instead of profits which would make more sense?

You're talking about John Gruber. I'm just talking about profit. Obviously, companies routinely defer profitability. Is that what you think Samsung, or any other Android vendor for that matter, is doing? I don't. Comparing the iPhone business with Amazon is an apples/oranges comparison. Comparing Samsung's Android business with the iPhone isn't.

Like Gruber, don't like Gruber, I don't care. But let's not introduce the meme that "profit" is a meaningless metric. It is the only metric. Companies that are optimized for something other than profit today are doing so in the service of profit, and nothing other than profit, tomorrow.

"Revenue", less profits, is money that doesn't belong to you.

If profit is the only metric, there aren't any apples/oranges comparisons; all businesses are comparable.

Apache and Linux and Wikipedia are completely valueless according to your only metric.

And here I thought we were talking about business.

"Revenue", less profits, is money that doesn't belong to you. Keeping score with it is pretty silly. Want a lot of revenue? Start a grocery store, but sell everything at a 10% loss.

iPhone's profit is larger than MSFT's profit as a whole.

Your argument is invalid.

You do understand that businesses exist to make money, right? Profit share is one of the few metrics that matter.

But Android is not there to make money, it is there to stop Apple taking over mobile and so cutting out Google from that business, so Google as a whole makes money.

> I chuckle every time I hear this. How much profit of the > web server market does Microsoft take with IIS vs. the free > alternatives like Apache and Nginx? > > Who wins in the Server OS market of Windows Server vs. > Linux/BSD? Who dominates the web dev tools market of Visual > Studio vs. Eclipse/etc. ?

In the not-to distant past (early 2006), I worked on a system which hosted millions of domains on Linux and Apache hosts. Microsoft called our company and offered them mega-bucks to switch the system to Windows and IIS so that they could increase market share. You can confirm this with netcraft - http://news.netcraft.com/archives/category/web-server-survey... . And we weren't the only shop they called with similar deals.

In this case, the one with the profit bought themselves 15% marketshare. I had real fears around that time that web stacks were going to start looking an awful lot like the desktop ecosystem.

Don't discount the power money can have.

Say company X sells 200 phones and makes $1000 profit.

Company Y sells 150 phones and makes $10,000 profit.

In this case we are comparing apples with apples. So it is a valid metric of comparison. In the same reasoning, if company Z sells 200 phones and loses money then obviously that is bad and company Z could potentially go bankrupt.

Well, company X is shipping its phone with an almost free (as in beer) software stack. If their entire stack was paid software, there would have been some more margin for profit. I cannot even guesstimate on how much would their profit share increase (given that higher price would mean lower sales), but it might be significant.

Yeah, the market is really "punishing" them all right: https://www.google.com/finance?client=ob&q=NASDAQ:AAPL (stock currently at $663)

Google and Apple may have, at a high level, opposing strategies, but Apple's approach is being adopted more and more (app stores, having more control on the experience, etc...) and companies wouldn't do that if it wasn't working. Hell Google's own products, the ones where they stamp "Google" on the back of the device, are very much in the line of Apple's usual MO. Sure Android will always have a few more "geeky" features (app side-loading) but the Nexus 7 is very Apple-like in it's execution (...and it's great!).

tl;dr - Their business models aren't as different as the old Windows vs Mac comparison.

Apple's strategy assumes that a single company and a single line of devices can indefinitely command the lion's share of the most important computing platform of our time. This just doesn't seem tenable to me. For every consumer that's completely satisfied with the Apple experience there will be 3-4 others that prefer some other product for any number of reasons.

When in the history of the world have we ever seen a single company and a single line of products dominate a mass-market consumer segment for more than a few years?

>When in the history of the world have we ever seen a single company and a single line of products dominate a mass-market consumer segment for more than a few years?

the historical norm is monopoly, not competition

While Apple may only have 30% of the smart-phone market, they make around 70% of the profit in the that market. I hardly call that punishing.

I think they realize that this position is no more sustainable than their position was in the desktop market and they're acting out of fear.

If you've used a recent, high-end Android phone you know that the quality gap is mostly gone and that the apps that most people care about are now available on both platforms. Apple is not going to be able to sustain their astonishing profit margins without the help of the courts.

Don't forget that Apple has a mountain of cash and an insane advantage in the tablet market. Macs are on the rise too. All this can be used to keep people in the Apple ecosystem. (iCloud is surprisingly meh, though.)

Not saying that Apple will succeed, but the future doesn't seem so clear to me.

It's the apple ecosystem that's the problem for me. Not everything they touch turns to gold, and force feeding us the lead with the gold is a becoming a turnoff.

I think Apple is here to stay but I don't see how they can sustain their phenomenal profit levels if their market share keeps slipping unless they keep winning in the courts.

What I'd like to see is a healthy market with two or three real competitors. It's much better for consumers and developers than another decade of monoculture protected by patent minefields.

What I'd like to see is a healthy market with two or three real competitors.

As would I, although I would like that market to offer real choice, and not just one first-mover and 1-2 copycats. Microsoft, Palm and Nokia managed to figure out how to make a touchscreen phone that isn't a warmed-over iPhone, I hope this provides the push for Samsung to do the same.

I deeply distrust MS as a company but I agree they deserve some credit for striking off in their own direction. I don't think Android is as similar to iOS as many claim but I would like to see more experiments as bold as WP8 in this space.

> and the market has punished them for it

In what way?

As an Apple shareholder I must say I'm loving this market punishment!

>They've refused to compete with Android on price, features, and form factors and the market has punished them for it.

In what universe did the market punish them? Apple has shipped 250 million phones and made 150 billion dollars in revenue in the five years since the iPhone shipped[1]. Each iPhone version has sold more than every other version combined[2].



In the global market where android now has 60 something percent market share and iPhones have 18.

But Apple make more profit. Thats how they decided to compete, not for market share.

And how's that profit sustainable?

They currently have near-monopoloy perceived first-mover prices and margins as 'the only credible device' (iPad) and 'the coolest device' (iPhone). They have the perception as being 'the only system with the good apps' (iPad) - noticeably they don't have that any more with the iPhone. Realistically, how long can they keep it with the iPad and, once lost, what means do they have of getting it back? And what's Apple's plan to maintain its current market advantages of consistency once the mobile market moves from high-end luxury to commodity that needs a tiered product range?

How many new Android devices come out per year, even just from the major top-tier devices? How many from Apple? To sustain the current position, Apple have to win and be lucky every time. Android can afford below a 10% hit rate and it'll still innovate faster and grow more strongly as a platform than iOS.

Apple now are in much the same position as they were the first time they lost Steve Jobs. Their five year outlook is, IMHO, grim - their profits come overwhelmingly from iOS but it's under heavy attack and has no obvious strategy to grow their base without cutting off what made them a success.

Apple are (medium-term) on the crest of a wave. Their long-term outlook is only down IMHO, and this time they can't bring Steve back.


Interesting hypothesis that they need to hit a homerun now with every gadget they make.

Sorry if I'm derailing the conversation, but is Google trying to capture the market share with the Android or is it trying to make a profit?

What is Google's goal with the Android? Ads? An extension to search?

Again, sorry if I've derailed the discussion. I'm just curious to see what HN thinks.

I think they are trying to commoditize the market so that Apple is not dominant. But Apple have not really joined in, and have managed to keep a large and profitable portion of the market, indeed grown that since Android launched. So so far Android has largely failed on that basis.

That global market is mostly made up people who would never become Apple customers. Apple really doesn't target poor people; Android does.

to me, this comment seems to be phrased a tad bit negatively, even though it may be factually correct.

a lot of people like to talk about "android fragmentation". while the variety of devices out there can sometimes be annoying as a consumer and developer, i tend to think of it as "android diversity" instead.

to me, it's wonderful that your so-called "poor people", who may not even have a regular computer and for whom the "premium" experience that apple is not an option, still have an opportunity to participate in the "modern world". even if it's with a device that gearheads would turn their noses up at.

technology liberates, informs, and elevates people. the fact that the android ecosystem is flexible enough to accommodate a huge demographic is a strength, in my mind, and not a weakness.

Just because I acknowledge they are poor people doesn't mean I think Android targeting them is bad. Android is a net positive for the species.

Having said that, it would be even better if more companies were willing to take risks and innovate like Apple has. Instead, most corporations are pathetically conservative, unimaginative, and basically stupid.

WebOS had many of the same UI elements; they actually copied the tactile feel quite closely. At the time of the Pre launch, the speculation was that Palm could afford to piss off Apple as their patent chest included some real gems from their work on the Palm Pilot and on Treo smartphones; I have a vague recollection that they had some key patents required to build a smartphone address book that Apple was already likely infringing.

Doesn't the phrase "patents required to build a smartphone address book" alone make you think that the patent system is broken?

On a similar note, I find the idea that future non-Apple devices might have been required to be triangular absolutely hilarious.

> The only patent the jury found that Samsung didn't infringe relates to the design of a tablet as having a rectangular shape and rounded corners. Throughout the trial, Samsung's lawyers frequently remarked that Apple shouldn't be given a monopoly on a rectangle with rounded corners.

-- online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444358404577609810658082898.html

Triangular Tablets?

Two Words: Dunder Mifflin

and all those phones have pinch to zoom. Just because Microsoft and Apple are colluding to avoid suing each other doesn't mean that an OS like WP is somehow the solution.

Licensing patents is not called collusion.

Edit: Source http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/08/apple-licensed-de...

No it's not called collusion, but when you have reciprocal agreements on licenses then it might as well be.

Just because Microsoft and Apple are colluding to avoid suing each other

Do you have facts that support this or is this your opinion?

The fact is that there is no lawsuit between Microsoft and Apple despite almost everybody else in the mobile industry suing everybody else[1]

[1] http://i-cdn.phonearena.com/images/articles/53157-image/Web-...

The more plausible reason Apple doesn't sue Microsoft is their lack of success in the space. Windows Phone has negligible marketshare and almost certainly loses money given the huge upfront costs of building an operating system and software ecosystem. It'd be hard for Apple to claim they lost a significant amount of revenue or sales from Windows Phone IP theft.

The more plausible reason is that Apple and Microsoft have a cross-licensing agreement that covers these patents. So long as Microsoft doesn't make something that looks like an iPhone or iPad, they should be in the clear.

I think the most plausible reason is the same reason that Microsoft and IBM don't sue each other over patents.

Apple and MS have so many core patents that cover Windows, OS X, Windows Mobile and iOS, not to mention media players, office software etc. that any lawsuit will most probably end up in huge legal fees followed by a cross licensing deal after all the counter claims are decided on.

It was clear from the documents in this case about the licensing offer from Apple to Samsung that Microsoft has licensed many patents form Apple although it seemed not to include everything.

> somewhat meaningless

It's not meaningless if it means a large cross section of the most popular Android phones are banned, even for a short time. Hopefully Samsung has already got software workarounds ready to deploy.

> Some of the things Apple invented and patented on like pinch to zoom

Please don't say rubbish like that. It is so clearly obvious that Apple didn't invent pinch to zoom, and even if they didn't, it's so dumb and obvious that it wouldn't be patentable anyway (hence why the various people who demonstrated it over the last 2 decades didn't bother). Apple patented some refinements to pinch-to-zoom and other gestures.

On a greater scale this is the clash of 'Western', as in US/Europe, and East-Asian mindsets and culture. If you look into other areas like pharma, the same battles are being fought, with India and China essentially ignoring 'our' patent laws for their domestic markets (see their recent changes in laws).

China has forced manufacturers to build factories in China in order to be able to sell products there, regardless of industry. Siemens managed to build one Maglev train in Shanghai - all the others are being build the Chinese themselves, now that they have the tech. Airbus? Same thing, China is jumpstarting their aircraft business.

Big picture is that this KILLS true Western style innovation as there is no reward for being first. If you're a founder you should be scared of the copy machines in East-Asia. For now they only focus on their own markets, but once big enough they will come after you.

Look at what 800App is doing with salesforce.com - they copy the shit out of it, pixel by pixel, essentially destroying the Chinese market for SFDC. SFDC chose an interesting tactic, they invested in 800App: http://salesforcerumors.com/2011/09/25/salesforce-com-invest...

Google can't come after Baidu. Facebook couldn't do much against vKontakte, their Russian 1:1 clone (the chuzpe is breathtaking).

If this ever effects the US or Europe to to great an effect I'm pretty sure WTO can help. China is not selling these sorts of products to the world yet so it's a pretty meaningless threat so far.

China represents on of the largest markets for potential growth right now.

VW and BMW see the Chinese market as their number one. BRIC is where the future money is. (Third biggest market for SAP is Brazil already).

There is no growth left in the US/EU.

Specific companies and even specific markets can still have substantial growth in US/EU. However for something saturated like the car market you are almost certainly correct.

I'm actually pretty shocked that the Tab 10.1 was spared from the design charges, especially considering they lost that battle in Germany (and released the Tab 10.1N).

probably hasn't sold enough to make the damages worthwhile

That's irrelevant. The question was asked before damages were assessed.

If Samsung get away without an injunction (decided by the judge I think) then just paying and ending the issue and embarrassing press may be the wise course.

It is only a billion dollars which Samsung can definitely afford. It could be seen as a cost of business and particularly the cost of becoming the number 2 smartphone manufacturer in the world and the only one really able to put products at the same price as Apples and still sell large quantities.

Interesting, because I see this from exactly the opposite side. Apple hardly needs a billion dollars, but I don't think this does anything to strengthen their image or their power in the marketplace, but I do believe it emboldens people who already dislike Apple, and begins to alert people who do that Apple doesn't put innovation and consumers first. That is to say they are no longer viewed as a company that out-innovates everyone else, but rather one that wants to hoard the mobile market. I think consumers are pretty sharp and realize this. I love Apple products, but I sure as hell don't want them limiting my choice when I go to buy a new phone.

Lest we forget that Microsoft was getting sued under the antitrust act just fifteen or so years ago. At that time, Apple was a joke and people who used MS software regularly began to resent them. How silly that seems now that they are relegated to owning only the shitty, bloatware enterprise productivity market.

Do you think Apple will appeal to get more then? I can certainly see them appealing if they don't get an injunction but I'm not sure they would want to reopen the damages part.

There are a range of views around here about what should happen. The middle ground area is possibly that iPhone lookalikes are blocked (but fairly narrowly defined lookalikes) and possibly Android needs to work around a few minor unimportant patents. I don't think anyone (outside of Apple and I'm not even sure there) wants Android totally eliminated but the scroll bounce patent is for a nice but completely unnecessary effect.

MS are still highly profitable at the moment and the do own the shitty, bloatware enterprise productivity market. There are worse market positions.

I don't think Apple will appeal, but Samsung will, which is a good move because if they concede and pay up hoping that this goes away then Apple will use that as a springboard for a thousand more lawsuits.

I guess it depends on what you consider to be an iPhone "lookalike". I don't believe that much about the iPhone look and feel that people usually point to is actually patentable- trademarkable, maybe, but not patentable. The things that Apple is attacking Samsung and Android over are fairly specific functions. For the practical purposes of the mobile market, I truly don't think this outcome is going to effect Samsung (or any other manufacturer) a great deal.

As for MS, yes, they are highly profitable, but my point is that they used to be the feared leader that owned the software market and all distribution to it. Now they have very little respect in the consumer electronics market which is quickly moving up-market and disrupting the enterprise market. I think Microsoft continues to lose market share into the foreseeable future because 1) their leadership is pretty bad in the sense that they are all over the map in terms of product development and lead on very few products and 2) their software is shit and their strategy of getting people into their full stack of web hosting/development/browser framework will never get them any kind of dominance there.

I am a bit biased here because I absolutely hate Microsoft's implementation strategy. For example, at our office we use Microsoft Project Web Access which they only allow you to use in Internet Explorer, offering its users no choice of browser. In the long run that doesn't seem like a wise choice. They're building in an unnecessary limitation that any competitor can exploit. Do they really think I or anybody else won't use Chrome or FF or any other browser just because they make me run their shitty software in IE?

Don't imagine that this ruling will be the end of Apple's war on Android. An emboldened Apple is going to go on the legal warpath like never before.

You make an assertion about future ctions by Apple as if it was fact. I tend to think Apple was particularly butt-hurt specifically over the trade dress stuff (rightfully so IMO). Why would this ruling lead to other flavours of Android being targetted so intensely?

Read Jobs' comments about going nuclear on Android and you can see this is just an execution of a strategy he set in place. If there are no more suits by Apple against Android vendors in the next year I will buy you a case of beer.

Even in the talk where he introduces the iPhone, Jobs says something along the lines of "we have over 200 patents for technologies that went into this device . . . and we aim to protect them!" and then everyone applauds. Kind of eerie looking back on it.

> You just have to look at Windows Phone 7 or Windows 8 or Web OS or Blackberry to realize that you don't have to copy Apple to make a good or great smartphone.

Ok sure, but why did you cite a bunch of bad smartphones to validate your point?

Smartphones != OS

Have you ever used Windows Phone or WebOS? I assure you, they are not 'bad'.

Ok, but AndroidOS didn't copy iOS for mobile so that's not what we're talking about. If we're talking about OSes only, then I agree, there's nothing wrong with either of those phones or really the blackberry themselves. They all have functionalities that fit different userbases. Similarly, neither of these OSes are absolutely 'better' than one another in that context.

Obviously, the point of contention here is with the design of the phones themselves, and how similar they look and feel to consumers. In that argument, the phones that have supported WebOS, Blackberry, and the WindowsOS have a lower quality overall, and I like WebOS. I'm talking about hardware, durability, and application ecosystem. This is my claim that smartphones of these types are 'bad'. The iPhone and Android would not be as popular if they were similar to the older Blackberry phones.

Android was on course to build something like BB until the iPhone released. They quickly changed gears (maybe even before the release if Jobs is to be believed) to follow Apple's lead. Samsung took it the next step.

I think the competition has been good for all involved, but revisionism fails to tell the real story.

>> Ok sure, but why did you cite a bunch of bad smartphones to validate your point?

The hardware for Windows Phone and Web OS might have sucked, but the OS's are quite nice in my opinion. I would seriously consider either of those two over an iPhone if they (well WP at least) had better hardware.

Regarding the Blackberry, well, I don't have any defence for them.

Well WebOS and Blackberry Playbook and Windows Phone 7 might not be of the same calibur in terms of hardware, but they are proof that Samsung didn't need to try and ape Apple so closely to make a good product.

Tell me something. If you took all the apps and app developers from the IOS App Store and traded them for all that WebOS, BlackBerry, Or windows 8 has... How would sales change in the next year??? Throw in Apple's marketing crew to trade as well. Isn't that an interesting notion?

Is suggestion that these are "bad smartphones" coming from their lack of sales? This is a false dichotomy. If not - please provide data that suggests otherwise (rather than your own heavily influenced personal opinion either).

It is not the phones or OS that makes IOS outsell the other companies mentioned - It is the apps and the marketing.

> It is not the phones or OS that makes IOS outsell the other companies mentioned - It is the apps and the marketing.

So nobody buys an iPhone because of how responsive iOS is or how well the iPhone is designed? Give me a break.

Also, it's "iOS". IOS is the Cisco router OS.

By that metric, OS X and Linux are bad operating systems because they don't sell/run anywhere as much as Windows does.

Windows must be superior in every way because it sells more, the other OSes are just bad?

> By that metric, OS X and Linux are bad operating systems because they don't sell/run anywhere as much as Windows does.

How is that my metric? I said it's ludicrous to assume nobody buys an iPhone because of the design or the OS, it's always because of the apps.

I never said word one about number of units sold, I have no idea what you're talking about right now.

I agree with this as well by the way. But you can't throw in an "interesting notion" theoretical to solve this problem. What Apple and Android devices have is not only a developer ecosystem and a better application suite, along with good marketing. They have a dedicated userbase. They have both convinced users in their quality by staying on the edge of technology and strongly competing.

My argument is that these smartphones are 'bad' in the same way that IE is a 'bad' browser in the eyes of most users in comparison to Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. However, I can't just assume that IF IE had the apps and app developers as the Chrome and FF that everything would change. There's something to be said about context, reputation, and history.

However, I'll concede that calling thse smartphones 'bad' is ambiguous and seems to imply a false dichotomy. The point was that it is kind of ridiculous to point to products with a bad reputation for developers or users (regardless of the reality of their quality) as a shining example of how Samsung didn't have to copy Apple. I agree that they didn't, but those aren't good examples.

You must be blind.

I was shocked to learn this case is basically being decided by people who have no idea what they are really deciding on.

Here is the jury according to techcrunch

1. An electrical engineer 2. A homemaker 3. A construction worker 4. A young unemployed man who likes video games 5. An insurance agent 6. An ex-Navy avionics technician 7. A store operations manager for a cycling retailer 8. A project manager for wireless carrier AT&T 9. A benefits and payroll manager who works with startups


Only in America?? And how many of those people are biased because they just love Steve Jobs and Apple products. I know for sure, my mom loves her Mac and she wouldn't think twice who is right and who is wrong in this case.

Knowing this audience, I'll probably get downvoted, but I'll say it anyway.

That's rather cynical. This is precisely the kind of trial that doesn't require expert thinking because most of what is up for debate is whether Samsung willfully attempted to fool customers into thinking that their products were just like an iPhone by copying the trade dress. And determining such a thing is a matter of common sense.

This reminds me of an anecdote about Brahms's first symphony:

Brahms himself said, when comment was made on the similarity with Beethoven, "any ass can see that." [1]

So it is here. We needn't pretend any longer that Samsung's designs are mere coincidence. Whether it should be punishable is another question, but under the current law this, to me, is the right call.

1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._1_(Brahms)#History

Reports already show that the jurors had not idea what they were doing. Many of the claims they made had no actual basis of infringement.

This reeks heavily of people that had little idea about how the system actually works and gave verdicts that were more speculative rather than grounded and based on hard acts of actual infringement.


Honest question: Would you have the same opinion if the jury decided the other way?

Honest answer: I would.

Even more honest answer: I'd probably let the Apple fanboys share the injustice to the world.

Well, then there's no one to blame but the parts involved. For weeks they called witnesses and experts to the stand to explain the jury their claims. They should have bring better experts or explain things better. Also, both parts agreed on the jury during the selection process.

Sorry buy you're definitely wrong there.

It is not "many of the claims" it is one claim for one phone out of what 15+ that were covered in the case. It is quite understandable that there would be at least one mistake out of the all patent/phone combinations.

Then how do you explain this:

"The judge is writing a note to the jury to point out exactly what the inconsistencies are, because they couldn’t seem to tell from going over the document themselves."

Poor judge who was reading it seems to be more switched on than people who were writing it. I'm sure court room felt like an elementary school at that point.

There was a great comment on the Verge (lol it's true) the other day about just this by someone who had been in a similar jury:


I actually have some experience with this. I recently “second chaired” a very complex civil trial involving significant accounting issues. The presentation of evidence alone took 5 weeks. The verdict form was almost as complex as the one described here. We all expected the verdict form to come back a self-contradictory mess, but in fact the jury had no problem sorting through it all. The verdicts were perfectly consistent and logical, as were the damage awards. And unlike the Apple/Samsung jury, our jury mostly consisted of homemakers and people from working class backgrounds, so we couldn’t expect them to have comfort with the subject matter. My take on this was that the jurors understood they were deciding a dispute worth tens of millions of dollars and really wanted to reach the right result. So we might see the same thing in this case. On the other hand, my trial involved “real people” with names and faces, not faceless corporations like Apple and Samsung. It is possible that the jurors had a higher level of engagement under the circumstances.

Honestly that sounds like the perfect group to decide this. The whole point of this lawsuit is to prove that your average Joe would have a hard time distinguishing Samsung's product from Apple's.

It seems like there's an Average Joe approving tech patents as well.

You seem to vastly underestimate the intelligence of the average person, and you fail to realize how serious people take jury duty once they have been picked.

It is important to realize that a jury trial is a seminar for the jury. It is given by two opposing sides to a disinterested party tasked to make a decision. If either side fails to inform the jury of the enormity or ramifications of their decision, it is the fault of that side.

And how serious the lawyers are with jury selection. Each side does a lot of scrutiny to get a sense of biases and ability to grasp the subject.

It's easy to complain about the verdict, but taking pot-shots at the jury is so cheap.


>> people who have no idea what they are really deciding on

I thought the lawyers, judge and witnesses provide all the information they need to make the decision.

>> And how many of those people are biased because they just love Steve Jobs

I would think that Samsung's lawyers would have disqualified those types of people during the selection process.

Indeed, and early on an Apple employee disqualified himself.


Another potential juror, a UI designer on the Android team was rejected by Apple.

The case is being decided by people that Samsung and Apple chose, out of the random pool of potential jurors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_selection

Yeah, we need ubergeeks like Stallman deciding this case (I'm sure it's not necessary, but: </sarcasm>).

No tech-savvy geek is unbiased. We both know it. If I were sitting on that jury, I'd be one hell of a biased juror who'd shout myself hoarse trying to terrorize other jurors to agree with me. Believe me, you don't want me deciding your billion-dollar case.

Try finding an impartial "geek" to set on this jury. Good luck.

If Samsung can't convince this lot - they couldn't it seems. So their only hope is the appeals court. But I got a feeling they'll drop that too.

Samsung's best approach is to pay. And move on.

I think the argument for infringement is a lot easier to make to a non-sophisticated audience than it is to an audience who understand patents. A non-sophisticated audience can be won-over with pictures showing product similarities and the suggestion of - 'look, they copied!'

It is also high on the conscious of American consumers that Apple is an innovative company that is readily ripped off by foreign companies.

FWIW I think the patent system is a lot more complicated than what a lot of geeks would understand as well. It really should be decided by a panel of judges and/or experts who can evaluate the case on merits and justify each decision.

Well, that's what "jury of one's peers" is all about, a broad spectrum of the population.

Well if corporations are people and Apple is the biggest company ever (in terms of market capitalization), who are their peers? It's kind of funny that at least in one arena the big players are accountable to average Joes and Josephines, even if those people disagree with me on certain patents' validity.

Isn't that how a jury is suppose to work though? They're suppose to have as little bias as possible going into the case.

The idea that expertise necessarily produces bias (towards which side?) troubles me.

In this particular case, I agree with other commenters here that the general public should be fit to judge. But I'd rather see technical cases like Oracle vs. Google decided by experts.

We’re not attorneys or judges either, yet we all have an opinion on the law.

“Only in America”

Far from it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_system#The_jury_trial_in_v...

absolutely, shocking. The 'general' public are unlikely to grasp how complex this is and the future ramifications from their short and very limited time with the case.

What's shocking is your complete ignorance of how the legal system works.

I'm aware of how it works, i just don't think there should be a legal dispute for many of the 'patents' here is all.

I agree completely - the only way this trial could have been fair was if the jury shared your opinion instead of forming their own.

I think we really need a sarcasm html tag... honestly I have trouble determining which of these comments are serious.

Well thats not how the law works today,

Representative of the general public in US. Won't you say?

Yes. The argument being that for a highly technical issue it should be decided by a panel of experts, not the general public.

Nonsense. The issue in question was that Samsung copied Apple's design in an effort to fool regular customers into thinking they were buying Apple products. As such, it makes perfect sense to have the jury consist of those regular people.

You mean, like how patent applications are reviewed by government experts before a patent is granted?

Except that it's NOT a highly technical issue.

It's mainly a trade dress and UI look & feel issue. So the general public are absolutely the right people.

The case also covers some extremely technical patents.

True but it isn't central to the case.

The Samsung counterclaims really centered around the patent exhaustion issue. If the jury found that it did not apply in this case Apple would clearly have infringed.

What on earth are you talking about ?

Juries around the world are compromised of ordinary people.

The USA is unusual in having juries used for a broader spectrum of cases than other countries.

I agree that this particular type of case should not be decided by jury.

Not really true, in complex civil suits. Many countries use specialized, expert judges and courts to decide such matters.

This is a good result.

Samsung copies for a living like many companies. Much of the copying is legal. Sometimes they push it too far. One smoking gun in this case was the Google told Samsung to change their designs. They didn't. They reaped the benefits in terms of higher sales and now they can reap the bad side of that too.

On net it has still been profitable from Samsung. Samsung lost but it hasn't been shut down or anything. In fact Apple is paying Nokia much more then Samsung will end up paying Apple. People crying that the sky is falling have missed this reality.

No damages for the overbroad ipad design patent. This seems like a good result as much of the complaining seemed to be about the "rectangle patent" people thought Apple had. I think the EU Registered Design for the iPad is much more specific and more in line with what people think of as trade dress. Samsung didn't really make any money in the tablet arena anyway.

I don't understand the mindset of companies in the eastern hemisphere. I feel like the majority of companies in china / korea thrive by copying other successful company products to survive. It's more blatant in china, but it still happens in korea / japan. I feel like there must be some underlying cultural thing that promotes this kind of behavior -- nobody feels like they're doing the wrong thing.

People that pirate Gucci bags or Rolex watches know there's a law against it but there's lot of rules we take for granted. People that buy the stuff know too.

Do we stop watching a YT clip that we know is actual copyright infringement? I'll venture that most of us don't. I suppose most of us rationalize our behavior by saying the laws are excessive. I imagine the people who buy and sell pirate goods do something similar.

While copying electronics is more common in Asia it's not like Japan or China or Korea don't innovate or that the West isn't similarly full of copycats (look at the Samwer brothers or the generic products in your supermarket).

And that also misses the point that Samsung and other copyists do a lot of good for consumers by copying innovations, pushing prices down. In some industries the people that actually innovate do need some protections so that they can keep making those investments. Much like in actual piracy there's a risk reward element to copying as a business model and I'm sure that's all part of the calculus that Samsung does with their products. Like the factory that breaks environmental or labor laws -- they pay up sometimes but in the end they do it because they still come out ahead.

Yes, it is a very cultural thing. I am generalizing here, but in Asia, individuality is (relatively) valued less and conformity valued more.

I might be downvoted for this, but well, there is a reason why all the Japanese cartoons/comics look similar to each other while western are much more diverse.

One of my friends that was in South Korea for some time really didn't like their lifestyle and told me, that this is probably how Romani people must feel in our country. There is something on it.

It's the same reason why entertainment execs like sequels vs original works. Higher chance of a good profit.

This will be chilling for innovation and competition and will only encourage Apple to take their paten-trolling further, to illegitimately gain bigger market-shares in the smartphone market (where international figures shows they are now in a dive).

This is not a good result. It may not have been as bad as it could have been, but it's still nowhere near good.

If Lucy Koh is so intent on protecting the singularity of one corporate interest over what is so obviously good for the general public, she should not be a Federal District Judge. She should still be in private practice.

We need Federal District Judges who are willing to work for the good of consumers, which involves protecting a market where competition can thrive.

Consumers benefit when there is more than one separate branch iterating outward and improving something very basic. A lightweight touchscreen rectangle is about as basic as it gets.

If Apple was a tire company, Lucy Koh just gave it the unearned "right" to patent every kind of tire tread imaginable.

[EDIT] -- Yes, I realize the decision was made by a jury. Firstly: The original case presented to her was a puff of smoke which should never have gone to trial in the first place. Secondly: Fast-tracking this case helped Apple (which had pre-prepared its mountain of baloney paperwork) and very much hurt Samsung (which understandably probably didn't have enough time to scramble and dispute every instance of baloney in the mountain of paperwork). Thirdly: Koh diallowed a key testimony: http://www.droiddog.com/android-blog/2012/08/judge-lucy-koh-... which would have helped the jury make a more informed decision.

I don't think that this is the judges fault. The law (at least to some degree) dictates the decision. If that decision is not good for the general public, then it is the law that needs change. (And we all agree that it does.)

Exactly. The sad thing is that many people will ignorantly blame the judge for this decision. Whereas the fact of the matter is that she simply presided over the trial.

We don't all agree that the law does need to change. I think at least the trade dress infringement claims were spot-on.

she did make many decisions through out the trial as to what was admissible and not admissible , so she did effect the outcome.

By that argument, Samsung's lawyers are more at fault by not following the predefined rules for submitting evidence. In this case, the judge setup the rules, and it was up to the parties to play by them.

its hard to follow the rules when the judge defines them as they go along. If you followed it, sometimes decisions are left ad hoc up to the judge.

Judge Koh didn't make this decision, a jury did.

I think you are understating the role of a judge in these types of trials

They decide timing, what can be admitted, specific questions, and the questionnaire the jury filled out as part of their verdict.

The fact that it even reached the point of a jury trial (and a very quick trial, at that) was the decision of a judge

I judge does not and should not work for consumers. A judge is there to fairly apply the law.

It sounds like your problem is with the laws we have, not the judge.

Better than that, I think, would be legislators looking out for the good of consumers and judges interpreting the law impartially.

If you followed the case, I think you'll see that there are some things Samsung directly lifted from Apple. For example, there are some keyboard layouts that are pixel-per-pixel identical to Apple's. I don't know why you'd remove the default android keyboard (since it's better) and put the apple keyboard in there.

If I were part of the jury, I'd think I would come up with the same conclusion as well. What company goes out of its way to copy another company's look & feel?

How did Koh not interpret the law impartially ?

The fact is that the Samsung lawyers failed to convince an independent jury of the general public. Koh had very little to do with it.

Koh had very little to do with it.

Apart from approving or rejecting every piece of evidence and testimony the jury would receive, which power could easily be used to create a reality distortion field around the jury... I'm not actually accusing Koh, just noting that juries are shown a very carefully constructed picture that is largely controlled by the judge, and may or may not resemble reality.

But since you're not accusing Koh and have no evidence then basically what you wrote is irrelevant to this case.

It is relevant to your previous comment, which claimed that Koh had "little to do with" the jury's decision.

Looking forward to plenty of truly dumb, ignorant comments like this in the future.

You do know that a jury made this decision, right ?

I don't care how strongly you disagree, ad homs like "dumb" and "ignorant" have no place on a civil discussion forum. Please stop being so inflammatory.

Firstly, it isn't an ad hominem attack. I said the comment was dumb and ignorant. I didn't say he was.

Secondly, the comment is taken of context because shawnee keeps editing and deleting comments.

Thirdly, what is worse than having inflammatory comments is one like these from people who aren't actually contributing to the discussion. Is there a need to be so condescending ?

Firstly, it isn't an ad hominem attack. I said the comment was dumb and ignorant. I didn't say he was.

You said "Looking forward to plenty of truly dumb, ignorant comments like this in the future," which implies that the author of the original comment will be making such comments. This is an attack on the character or intelligence of the author, and is thus an ad hominem.

Secondly, the comment is taken of context because shawnee keeps editing and deleting comments.

This is remedied by quoting the part of the comment you want to highlight in your response. I use HN's asterisks-to-italics formatting for quotations; others use spaces to activate a <pre> block (be sure to insert manual line breaks if you use this method).

Thirdly, what is worse than having inflammatory comments is one like these from people who aren't actually contributing to the discussion. Is there a need to be so condescending ?

Sometimes voting and flagging aren't enough to signal that a discussion is getting out of hand, and a direct comment is required. You will find that I contributed on-topic responses elsewhere, including a response to another comment of yours.

You said "Looking forward to plenty of truly dumb, ignorant comments like this in the future," which implies that the author of the original comment will be making such comments. This is an attack on the character or intelligence of the author, and is thus an ad hominem.

I didn't read it as that. Generally on these sort of platform contention type topics you'll get a lot of common themes being repeated by both sides. I read it as inferring the 'Judge was biased' comment will become a meme.


On what legal basis ? And surely that wouldn't be the impartial thing to do, right ?

Your comment about Lucy Koh is completely out of line. If you are going to attack her integrity back it up with some evidence.

The big winner, apart from Apple, is Microsoft. If you're a hardware manufacturer, your choices are

1. You go with Android and have both Apple and Microsoft come after you.

2. You go with Windows Phone.

I suspect the Windows Phone team is breaking open some champagne now.

The big loser here though might be America. Mobile hardware companies like ZTE or Huawei who are probably growing at the fastest pace right now are just going to deem the American market too risky to be made a priority and focus on Asian & European markets.

This exact point is something no one here on HN has realized. I'm living outside the US and this patent war means nothing to me (as of now). And when I was there, I was surprised to talk to my relatives and find out that before the iPhone all they had were crappy dumbphones. No Nokia S60 phones, no SonyEricsson P series UIQ phones, no nothing.

After this, I think many Android handset manufacturers might feel that the US market is too risky to enter. As it is, their mindset regarding a cellular phone is completely different as compared to others. They treat it as a service (which is why subsidized plans with criminal monthly rates exist) instead of decoupling the device from the subscription plans. Although in their defense it doesn't help that each of the carrier rolls with their own tech making cross-compatibility virtually impossible.

Apple will have no problem following them into European courts. I'm sure Asia is the same, assuming they feel they can get a fair shake there. Many of the types of patents they are suing for are international in nature.

Different courts have come to different conclusions about the same companies. In the UK, Apple had to say Samsung didn't copy them. In other European countries, Samsung's products had to be changed to avoid a permanent ban. In Korea, Apple and Samsung managed to ban some of each others' products.

In other words, these lawsuits demonstrate international inconsistencies in patent laws, courts, and markets, and will only serve to fragment the international market and make developing a smartphone riskier and less predictable. Who loses? Consumers and smaller hardware and software companies.

Good luck getting this kind of ruling anywhere in Asia except perhaps Japan. Most Asians are going to be baffled by this, if they don't see it as an attack on a successful Asian business by an American bully.

Apple is going to regret this in the long run, I suspect. They should have spent their energy going after the Chinese iPhone cloners that put junk hardware in an actual iPhone case instead.

No, you can also make an Android phone. You just need to avoid infringing these specific patents either by removing functionality or implementing it in another way.

This lawsuit did not find that "Android" helplessly infringes Apple patents in all cases. Just that the combination of Android, Samsung's software modifications to Android, and Samsung hardware, together infringed several very specific Apple patents.

You could but who's to say that Apple can't find other patents in their portfolio to come after you with (or MSFT can't extract their Android licensing for you). Apple wants to destroy the Android ecosystem and they're going to take any legal measure possible.

With Windows Phone, you're protected from this through MSFT's cross-licensing deal with Apple - Apple even pointed to the Nokia WP phones as an example of being able to do something different.

No, you can also make an Android phone. You just need to avoid infringing these specific patents either by removing functionality or implementing it in another way.

As magicalist points out elsewhere in the thread, it is utterly impossible for anyone to build anything resembling a modern smartphone without infringing claim 8 of Apple's '915 patent. You can build a phone or a tablet, but whatever you build will not be capable of competing with an iPhone or an iPad.

Regardless of what you think about Apple, the iPhone, or patents in general, it is not OK for a judge or jury to hand an entire market over to a single player for 20 years. Claim 8, by itself, is enough to do that. By granting it, the USPTO walled off all possible competitive approaches.

Apple doesn't have a patent for one finger scrolling or pinch zooming. If the claim you are talking about is one finger scrolling, having that feature is not enough to violate the whole patent. The patent in question is about a method to detect transition from scrolling to zooming. It will be worked around.

How in the world do you interpret the language in claim 8 as "detecting a transition from scrolling to zooming"? The plain language just describes a single system that can process both single-touch scrolling input and multitouch gestures. Anything that does both appears to be covered by the claim.

I don't exactly know what the patent is. But it was clarified by Samsung attorney in the trial that you do not infringe Apple patents by having one finger scrolling and pinch to zoom. So it is possible to make a modern smartphone.

I don't exactly know what the patent is.

I see.

But it was clarified by Samsung attorney in the trial that you do not infringe Apple patents by having one finger scrolling and pinch to zoom. So it is possible to make a modern smartphone.

Those would be the same Samsung attorneys who just lost a $1 billion patent suit?

I haven't been following this closely, but if I understand correctly, the jury found against Samsung on the Nexus S. That is a Google phone built straight from Android and with no specific Samsung code at the UI level.

(Don't think a disclaimer is necessary in this case, but I used to work at Google. Not on Android.)

That is correct. The case is much more nuanced than suggested. This case was Samsung and Google by proxy vs Apple

The case was only against the Nexus S 4G - the Sprint version - which hasn't been updated to Android 4.1. The AT&T version was not part of the case. Android 4.1 removed infringing features.

I hope that's true, do you have a source? It would be a nice silver lining if this ruling resulted in manufacturers sticking closer to stock Android and moving to the latest versions more quickly.

Microsoft has already applied a reported $5/device licensing fee to Android. It varies I guess but they have most vendors signed up.

If the outcome of this is that Apple effectively gets $10/device for Android then Windows Phone at $15/device has something approaching price parity.

However if I was a phone vendor I would still prefer Android for various reasons including the optional nature of the license(s), the flexibility, superior third and first party apps, the fact that Nokia has better access to WP7, etc.

Microsoft at least will offer a license and most manufacturers have taken it (including most Android partners). Motorola seems to be the main exception.


3. License RIM's OS, if it ever comes out

4. Boot to Gecko

5. OpenWebOS?

Any of those are atleast a couple of years away from becoming realistic. Windows Phone has an app ecosystem today, the muscle/deep pockets of MSFT behind it and frankly, it's a pretty good OS. It's a slam dunk at the moment.

Apple stock is down. Microsoft stock is up. Guess who's the winner.

I'm not sure where you're getting your information, but Apple stock was up at the end of trading today and it's still up in after hours trading.

This kind of stuff is incredibly easy to look up.


AAPL is up 1.8% after hours http://www.google.com/finance?q=aapl


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