NEWS ANALYSIS: The jury verdict awarding $1.05 billion of Samsung's money to Apple for patent infringement wasn't even a legal misstep. In reality it was a legal stumble of nine bemused people.
If the jury verdict in a California federal court
accomplished anything beyond spending millions of your tax dollars needlessly,
it also served to sow confusion. Worse, the confusion started with the jury
itself, which was so bewildered about its own verdict that it awarded damages
for things that the jury itself had decided didn't infringe on Apple's patents.
Then it went downhill from there.
Leaving aside the likelihood that the jury
conducted an unseemly rush to judgment
and the foreman of the jury apparently
had an interest in a related patent
, the fact is that the jury made
so many errors
that its decision is nearly certain to be overturned on
appeal. The jury was apparently so confused with the concept of "prior
art" that it finally decided just to move on and ignore the issue.
Then the confusion spread. Samsung stocks dropped about
seven percent the next day. Google stock prices dropped because of the
association with Android. Investors spent a day running scared. But then
somebody stopped to think.
What is a billion dollars to Samsung? Chump change. It's
Samsung's version of pizza money. It's a rounding error in the annual report. And
it means even less to Apple because Apple is so obscenely cash-rich that a
billion more or less will never be noticed. So why the angst? Won't Apple force
all of those Samsung phones off the market?
Well, perhaps, but for the most part those
are models that are two years old or more. Many aren't even
being sold any more. And Samsung's hot-selling Galaxy S III isn't affected by
the verdict, nor is the Galaxy Note. In other words, none of the current
Samsung smartphones is affected by the verdict and won't be subject to any
injunction the federal court might grant, which at this point is a highly unlikely
The reason any injunction against selling old phones by
Samsung is unlikely is actually twofold. First, Samsung is appealing and
there's a good chance its appeal will be upheld, at least to the point of
granting a second trial on the grounds of jury misconduct. The second reason an
injunction probably won't be granted is that the federal judge in the case is
aware that the jury in the case didn't follow her instructions and that it may
have shirked its duty.
In addition, Judge Lucy Koh has announced that she will
not grant a preliminary injunction demanded by Apple, but will instead hear
arguments on a permanent injunction in December. Samsung, meanwhile, is asking
that the injunction Koh did grant stopping sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 be
lifted because the jury found that it didn't infringe on Apple's patents.