Apple’s $1 billion patent verdict a blow to Android phones


Google relies on Android devices to drive mobile traffic to its search engine, which in turn generates increased advertising revenue. Android is becoming increasingly more important to Google’s bottom line, because Apple is phasing out reliance on Google services such as YouTube and mapping as built-in features on the iPhone and iPad.

Some experts cautioned that the decision might not be final, noting the California lawsuit is one of nine similar legal actions across the globe between the two leading smart-phone makers.

Samsung has vowed to appeal the verdict all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that Apple’s patents for such “obvious” things as rounded rectangle were wrongly granted. A Sept. 20 hearing is scheduled.

The $1 billion jury award represents about 1.5 percent of Samsung’s annual revenue. Jerome Schaufield, a technology professor at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, said the verdict wouldn’t upend a multibillion-dollar global industry.

“Samsung is powerful,” Schaufield said. “The company will regroup and go on.”

Samsung engineers already have been designing around the disputed patent since last year.

“We should never count out Samsung’s flexibility and nimbleness,” said Mark Newman, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein. “This is merely an embarrassment and annoyance to the company that they will have to find ways around.”

The dispute centers on Apple’s dissatisfaction with Google’s entry into the phone market when the search company released its Android operating system and announced any company could use it free of cost.

Google entered the market while its then-CEO Eric Schmidt was on Apple’s board, infuriating Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who considered Android to be a blatant rip-off of the iPhone’s innovations. Apple filed its patent infringement lawsuit in April 2011, engaging the country’s highest-paid patent lawyers to demand $2.5 billion.