Apple versus Samsung headed to a jury

A Samsung phone (R) and an iPhone 4.

Tess Vigeland: After weeks of juicy testimony -- assuming you call patent law juicy -- Silicon Valley's trial of the century, or of the moment anyway, is headed to the jury. Apple is suing Samsung for allegedly copying the design of its iPhone and iPads. Samsung is suing Apple back for allegedly infringing on its mobile patents.

So, why should we care who wins this $2.5 billion battle? Here's Marketplace's Queena Kim.


Queena Kim: Like most patent trials, even the simplest questions in Apple versus Samsung are complicated. Take this one: How will the verdict affect consumers? Kal Raustiala is law professor at UCLA and the author of the "Knock Off Economy."

Kal Raustiala: There’s a lot of different claims and winning and losing can go in a lot of different directions.

Raustiala doesn’t see a winner-take-all scenario. But he says let’s assume the jury finds that Samsung copied the rectangular shape and curved edges of the iPad and iPhone. That verdict would force competitors to change the shape of their products.  

Raustiala: We might see some crazy designs.

But if consumers demand a rectangular shape. Apple could levy a licensing fee to every manufacturer who wants to meet that demand. And who’ll pay for those fees? Sarah Rotman Epps is an analyst with Forrester.

Sarah Rotman Epps: Those costs will trickle down to consumers.

And if Samsung wins its patent claims? Well then, Samsung could charge Apple a fee for using its patents for wireless technology and camera phones. Rotman Epps adds that if Samsung wins, we’ll see even more product copying Apple. And that’s prompted concerns that a Samsung’s victory could stifle innovation.

But James Allworth, who writes about innovation for at the Harvard Business Review, isn’t buying it.  

James Allworth: The assumption a lot of people have is that without patent protection companies will not invest in them.

But Apple became the most valuable public company in the world yesterday. And Allworth says  even if copycats flood the market, Apple will just innovate faster.

I’m Queena Kim for Marketplace.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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