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.


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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Samsung fans and Apple haters have conveniently forgotten life before iPhones when phone designs were actually diverse, when a razor actually looked different from other flip phones, an omnia pro was clearly not a blackberry, when a product was unique. But now, the iPhone is a victim of its own breakaway success, because instead of innovating, others, especially Samsung, have chosen replication over innovation. They could have tried to be unique, but they were scared by the velocity of the iPhone's impact and gave in to panic. The idea that Samsung is the innovator and Apple is the follower is a laughable fantasy from the magical mind of a thief. Let's hope the jury gives us a future of wildly different mobile devices to choose from instead of a knock-off world of logo-sticker "engineering". Samsung and others aimed for originality before, let's see them do it again and we'll all benefit.

Ughhh... I am so tired of all these noob "Apple" users spouting off. Most of them have no clue about the progression of mobile technology & development. I was using WInCE over a decade ago. I was using PPC nearly a decade ago. I could do just about anything an iProduct can do nearly a decade ago. People come along & have had an iPhone for 3 years & think they are power users or know something about firmware, code or development of hardware. Just because a TableTop computing product doesn't look like an Ipad, doesn't mean the technology is different. This judge & most of the commentators just have no clue. I am so sick of this Apple Vs Samsung crap. Firstly, if you are so stupid to confuse any "Android" product with an "I"-product, well I just don't even think it is possible. People are so brand aware & simply put label whores, that they go shopping for specific products. You telling me that you can't tell an Iphone from an S2 or S3? Show me a person that can't differentiate an i-OS device & an Android device & I'll show you an Amish farmer that was never going to buy either anyway.

I'm really bothered that Apple is sueing Samsung over the fact that both devices look like Star Treks PADD. Which I'm sure had antecedents before that.

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