Apple-Samsung case far from over, but won't delay next iPhone, analysts say

Despite Friday's verdict for Apple, motions and appeals could stretch out the litigation for a year or more

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

The legal battle between Apple and Samsung Electronics may continue for another year or more despite a jury verdict on Friday that appeared to hand the iPhone maker a solid win. But the wrangling isn't likely to delay Apple's next big product.

Apple's suit, which says Samsung stole software features and hardware and interface designs from iPhone and iPad models in its Android-based tablets and smartphones, took more than a year to reach a jury after it was filed in April 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. But even after the jury finished its work last week with an approximately US$1 billion patent-infringement verdict against Samsung, the case was not yet cut and dried.

On Tuesday, Samsung pushed for faster resolution of one aspect of the case, asking the court to move quickly to lift an injunction against its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet that was imposed before the jury trial began. Amid its findings of infringement against many Samsung products, the jury found that the Galaxy Tab didn't violate any Apple patents. After the verdict, Samsung swiftly called for an end to that injunction.

Meanwhile, analysts say Apple probably won't push back its expected iPhone 5 launch to wait until the legal shouting dies down. Things may not be so rosy for the company's rivals, though.

"Launch dates on products for this holiday season are locked down due to the two to five months of network testing that U.S. carriers require," said Avi Greengart of Current Analysis, via email. "However, the verdict could certainly affect the design and user interface features of future products, and I would expect some of that work will start even if the appeals process drags out."

Samsung may face challenges if it has been developing future products using some features that the company was found to infringe, said Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates.

"I expect that this will cause Samsung to scramble with its product portfolio," Kay said.

"This saps Samsung's momentum," he added. "If they had all this micro-timed stuff that's supposed to come to market, [they may have to] pass it back to all the product teams."

The impact of the verdict could spread well beyond Samsung. "I'd expect more than a few vendors carefully going over their designs to make sure they aren't going down the same path Samsung did," Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg said.

Meanwhile, Apple may be able to push the legal drama out of the headlines just by announcing its next big product, Kay said.

"Apple, more than any other company, has a kind of Zen-like poise and its own internal calendar," Kay said.

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