Some hope Apple’s sweeping patent victory against Samsung, Android is Pyrrhic

“Apple won big with Friday’s $1 billion U.S. patent judgment against Samsung. In a sense that seems fair, as Apple revolutionized the cell phone and rival products from the Korean manufacturer and other competitors mostly look like copycats,” Richard Beales opines for Reuters Breakingviews. “But if the fear of future lawsuits forces Google, which makes the Android operating system used by Samsung, to push the technology and hardware makers forward, users could benefit, too.”

“The California jury took Apple’s side in almost all the company’s claims. These ran the gamut from the design of hardware to the appearance of icons and the gestures that users apply to a touchscreen to control it,” Beales writes. “[Samsung] seems to have miscalculated. Documents in the case showed that Apple had offered to let Samsung license certain patents for $24 per device. Based on the Korean firm’s smartphone and tablet sales, the Wall Street Journal calculates the cost would have been a bit over $500 million so far. Striking that deal with Apple could have turned out cheaper, especially since the judge can triple the awarded damages.”

Beales writes, “But the Apple-Samsung case doesn’t have to hold back progress. If the Android camp – which includes Google, Taiwan’s HTC and other handset makers – take the verdict as a challenge to out-innovate Apple, consumers could find themselves with exciting new options. And if rivals can steal Apple’s thunder rather than echoing it, they’d be able to note smugly that the Cupertino company’s seemingly comprehensive patent victory in 2012 was Pyrrhic.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We think competition is good. It makes us all better. And we are ready to suit up and go against anyone. However, we will not stand for having our IP ripped off, and we’ll use whatever weapons that we have at our disposal. I don’t know that I can be clearer than that. Apple’s then-COO, Tim Cook, January 21, 2009 – two years after Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled iPhone and one year before he revealed iPad.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


    1. if they were truly interested in out-innovating Apple, they would have created their own OS that was attuned to their specific hardware. No, every phone company that has chosen to use Android has done so specifically to create something as apple-like as possible with as little work as possible.

    2. Yeah won’t happen from those gutless yellow belly smartphone ripoff artists, they don’t have the gumption, talent or real R&D departments. But go for it, by all means go for it! It WILL make the device market a better place since it will also keep Apple on it’s toes.

    3. Copying is what they do. They have no inclination to innovate. From the CEOs to the lowest engineers, the entire culture is geared only to follow where someone else has succeeded. Pundits made the same case how microsoft and their oems would copy and out-innovate iTunes/iPod. Didn’t happen, because it couldn’t. When told on CNBC that others would out-do iTunes/iPod Steve Jobs smiled and said “let them try.” When Apple’s competition tries to innovate (which they often do), they fail, because they can’t think that way.

      1. Might NOT be appealed. They have to put up that money when they enter the appeal process I believe. To ensure they still have it to pay, should they lose the appeal. If 1 billion is a quarter of their profits then 3 billion would be three quarters of their profits. hide up for who knows how long wild their business continues to suffer

        1. “They have to put up that money when they enter the appeal process I believe”

          Has that been specifically ordered for this case? We rarely hear about escrowing before an appeal… far more often we hear stories where companies lose a case, appeal, lose again… but when they stop fighting or have lost at the supreme court level and ordered to pay, they don’t. Then the plaintiffs have to file suit (i.e. waste more money) to get the settlement itself. By that time smaller companies may have gone bankrupt.

  1. “they’d be able to note smugly that the Cupertino company’s seemingly comprehensive patent victory in 2012 was Pyrrhic.”

    That is not the meaning of “Pyrric” victory. If Apple had spent over $100 billion on the win (thus decimating its cash holdings) or had been required to show its *next* three generations of iPhones and iPads (thus decimating any design advantage going forward) THEN it might be considered a Pyrric Victory as the cost to Apple to get the wind might have been more than the win itself. A Pyrric Victory is one in which the winning side cannot support a similar battle again because a similar battle will destroy the previous victor since the previous victor has no resources upon which to call in order to even fight an effective battle, let alone win.

    However, forcing all players to move to a level field is not a Pyrric Victory. All players restarting as equals is not a Pyrric Victory for Apple. It is a victory, plain and simple.

      1. As do most most people that are not following this stuff closely. The Android and Samsung camps have been pretty effective in dumbing this down for ignorant masses: “Apple is stifling innovation”, “Everyone steals. That is how progress is made”, and “Apple is trying to patent rectangle and round corners.” These memes are repeated endlessly on comment boards other than this one.

    1. Think about it. If the other phone makers could start using their R&D departments and actually out innovate Apple because of this patent victory, no matter how absurd that sounds, it would indeed be a Pyrrhic Victory.

      The patent victory caused innovation. The innovation caused better products than Apple’s products. Apple falls way behind. Pyrrhic Victory, no matter how unlikely that would be.

      1. This is precisely what the columnist means — that the Apple win will actually motivate other companies to out-innovate Apple and actually manage to pull it off. Not that any of us believe that could happen, but stranger things have happened. I’m sure Apple’s response to this would be “Let them try.”

        1. More likely, they’ll all go back to being Windows phone makers. I doubt any of them have the designers or programmers left anymore. They just want SOME way to sell product and sinking money into your own solution didn’t pay off too well for the last BIGGEST “make my own OS” company. (Nokia)

      2. You clearly don’t understand what a Pyrric Victory means.

        In a Pyrric Victory the winner is decimated in THAT battle — not some potential, future battle that may or may not happen. Apple has not been decimated in this battle.

        If this victory is upheld on appeal (and it WILL be appealed) then Apple has plenty of resources to fight future battles. And the WORST thing that will happen is that all players are forced to play on an even, level playing field. Apple will still be one of the — if not THE — strongest players on that field.

        This is perhaps the furthest thing from a Pyrric Victory!

    2. This is not the meaning of “decimate”. Decimation was a form of punishment used by the Roman army, against an offending unit. Lots were drawn, and 1 in 10 individuals, officers and enlisted, would come up losers. Then the rest of the unit had to kill the losers.

      If Apple lost 10+billion of their 100 billion cash holdings, that would be decimation.

  2. I’ve read that line several times now, “The verdict may backfire on Apple, competitors may out innovate them”, Blah Blah Woof Woof.

    Wishful, optimistic thinking.

    Only Apple can beat Apple, historically speaking. What the future holds, without Steve, is a big unknown, time will tell.

  3. Google’s Android software is the mother of all plagiarism. It copies code lines from Oracle’s Java and plagiarizes every features of Apple’s mobile OS. Before the advent of the iPhone, RIM’s hardware was the target of its plagiarism. Even its intention to distribute its software through the web was shelved in favor of copying Apple’s move. Of all the mobile phone softwares in existence, Android is 99% mimicry of the iOS software. As all other softwares have proven: there are other ways of creating softwares without infringing on others’ IPs, but Google with its proven record of nefarious activities like advocating IP theft, identity theft and taking authors’ works for free has this behaviorism built into its DNA. It is because of Google’s behavior that has embolden Samsung, HTC and others to believe that there is only one way to produce a smartphone or a table, and that is to copy Apple’s designs.

    Every designer is given a clean rectangle to work on and it is up for each designer to come up with its own unique rectangle. If the designer cannot think of a better way to design the rectangle and claimed “prior art” as a defense for its plagiarism, then it deserves to be punished hard. Google, your time of retribution is not far off.

  4. Copying stifles innovation, so I don’t see why they’re saying that’s no good for consumers. Nokia’s smartphones look nothing like Apple’s smartphones. Just as Apple came up with ways to design a user interface, there are probably lots of other ways to do what Apple did. There are so many whiners out there acting as if Apple killed all the competition and have hurt consumers.

  5. I think the title of this article is misleading. A pyrrhic victory would mean that Apple summoned forth the armies of Hell (and no doubt the bureaucrats in Hell are groaning when they consider how many Samsung executives they will now have to house) and allowed themselves to be consumed in flames so that they could also burn up their enemies. Think of it as calling down napalm on your own position.

    Apple did no such thing. They used the courts and then only as a last resort (which is the sensible thing in any attempt to litigate – basically don’t if at all possible). What Apple has done is to assert its rights under US law. Now, if the bad boys and girls at Samsung want to get back in the game, they have to play by the rules and they have to focus on innovation. Let’s see just how serious they are and what their A game is, if they have one.

    Revenge is a dish best served cold and at this point, my money is on Apple as having the best Cook.

    1. “A pyrrhic victory would mean that Apple summoned forth the armies of Hell…” and “Think of it as calling down napalm on your own position.”

      NO! NOT AT ALL!

      Where do you people get this stuff??????

      I know it is unlikely that any of you studied Latin for several years like I did. I know few, if any, of you read the original Roman accounts (in Latin) of this particular pair of battles. But… you should at least know what the real meaning of a Pyrric Victory is!

      Neither the author of the article nor most of the posters here have the vaguest idea what a Pyrric Victory is.

      1. @Shadowself – Thank you thank you thank you!

        All it takes is a quick highlight of the phrase “pyrrhic victory” and go search Wikipedia for a great rundown on the high cost of King Pyrrhus’ victory. Your fine explanation of what Apple would have to have done to have won such a victory is a good read.

        Because of your due diligence, we’ve all gotten a wee bit smarter (about ancient Roman history) today.

  6. So far the Android camp has chosen to follow and copy all of Apple’s innovations. I don’t know if they have what it takes to actually use there own ideas, especially Samsung. It will be interesting to see them actually use there own R&D with there own money to throw at it and actually make there own products. It takes time to do these things when you do them like Apple does. The iPhone and iPad weren’t developed in 6 months like Samsungs products because Apple first had to come up with the ideas, the shapes, the functions, the components, the software, and how it will all works with everything else and then figure out how to manufacture it all and sell it. Something that Samsung and others know little about since there used to using there copy machines and reverse engineer Apple’s products and then put most of all that Apple had to figure out themselves, copy it and slap there own name on it.

  7. …a challenge to out-innovate Apple, consumers could find themselves with exciting new options

    That is EXACTLY the point! I want a company who can Kick Apple’s Ass! Get busy!

    Competition is the father of innovation. If you can’t compete, you can’t innovate and you do NOT belong in the business.

    So Samsung: Please go die and do the world a favor. Make room for a worthy company who can out-innovate Apple!

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