Apple vs. Samsung: What the verdict will mean to you

Apple's lawsuit against Samsung hinges on whether Samsung violated Apple's patents. But technology may be the least of it.

At some point, you're going to buy a new phone.

Events today in a San Jose courtroom are going to have a big effect on how that goes as lawyers for Apple and Samsung make closing arguments in the patent lawsuit between the companies.

Doug Lichtman is with UCLA School of Law and says, "Apple is telling a very simple, clean story:  They saw our products, they liked them, and they copied almost everything they could see. On defense, Samsung is saying Hey, Apple didn't invent those things. Even though you all think that the iPhone was a great breakthrough, the iPad was really innovative. It wasn't. It was just a natural step in the progression."

Samsung's products run on the Android operating system, Apple's biggest rival. And they do look like Apple products.

Samsung, says Colleen Chien of Santa Clara University School of Law, says the similarity is natural. "For example, as a precursor to the tablet computer, they had a table computer, and looking at some of their prototypes from before Apple introduced its products, you just get the sense that modern technology didn't just come out of nowhere. It really has built on generations of different advances."

If Apple wins, the adjustments to the smartphone market might not be that huge, says Lichtman. "Imagine the judge says you can't use slide to unlock anymore. Samsung will then go ahead with corkscrew to unlock, where you spin your finger in a circle, or type in a password to unlock, or look at a front-facing camera, it will recognize you and unlock. And so for most of the features at issue, worst comes to worst, Samsung will download some sort of software upgrade, knock out the feature, and replace it with something pretty similar, but perfectly legitimate."

In the event of an Apple victory, however, it won't just be Samsung making adjustments, says Chien.

Chien: Apple is sending a message to the community - don't make products that look like ours, and companies will have to take that up, and you'll see differences in the products that you have to choose from

Moe: So it's as much about the precedent as anything. If LG wants to make a phone, they're going to look at this ruling.

Chien: Yes. Definitely. Apple is taking a hard line here because they do want to set a strategy that's not just for this particular case, but can set a tone for what can happen in the marketplace.

If Samsung wins, any company making Android gadgets can keep making them look like Apple gadgets.

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Vacation season for a lot of people. But not robots. Let's see what they're up to.

ROBOTS are taking a cue from chameleons. Harvard researchers are making robots that mimic the disguise abilities of living animals. The silicone based robots have narrow channels in their skin that can be filled with gases or liquids to let squishy robot blend in with scenery. The Defense Department is interested. Battlefield of the future packed with gooey chameleobots.

ROBOTS are getting jobs making noodles in restaurants. A restaurateur in China is building humanoid noodle droids and selling a ton to other restaurants at $2000 a piece. The robots have moving eyebrows and eyes that flash. You know why? Because I have no idea.

But disguises and noodles still aren't as impressive as:

ROBOTS blasting rocks with LASERS on MARS. That's what the Curiosity rover has now done, firing a laser 30 times, each with a million watts of power, until the rock turned to plasma.

Folks, we as a society have our ups and downs but we did build a robot that went to Mars and melted a rock with lasers. High-five someone today.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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