The landmark legal battle between Apple and Samsung now rests in the hands of nine jurors. While a verdict could come at any time, most observers don’t expect a verdict before the middle of next week.
No matter how the jury decides, the fight won’t be over. The companies are virtually guaranteed to appeal the rulings they lost.
Still, it’s possible to suss out a few of the most likely outcomes and their consequences. Here are three ways it could go down.
Apple Wins Outright
Apple is seeking as much as $2.5 billion in damages. Samsung has enough cash to withstand the blow, they earned $12 billion last year, and they have $14 billion in the bank, but it’s still a big chunk of change to have to pay out.
If Apple wins outright, experts widely agree that the smartphone landscape could be forever changed. Particularly for Google’s Android ecosystem.
“Other manufacturers could be sued for similar software infringements, which means Google has to make sure its Android interface doesn’t infringe,” said Jefferson Wang, mobile consultant at services firm IBB. “That means wireless carriers would have to start worrying about whether Android is a viable ecosystem.”
Smartphone and tablet makers could be forced to retool their designs.
Chris Carani, a design patent attorney at McAndrews, Held & Malloy says that if Apple wins, competitors will have to be careful not to get as close to Apple’s products as Samsung did, making sure to create products that are distinct from Apple’s.
Apple could also request an injunction against Samsung, keeping infringing gadgets off of the market until they are tweaked.
Samsung Wins Outright
Samsung has counter-sued Apple, charging that the Cupertino company violated five of its own software patents.
The patents in question are considered “non-essential”. Major changes to, or an injunction against, the iPhone or iPad is highly unlikely. Apple could be forced to license the patents from Samsung for a small amount of money per device sold.
Worst case scenario for Apple; the jury rules that their patents are invalid. If Apple’s patents are invalidated, it could take a lot of OOMPH! out of Apple’s legal crusade against Android.
A Mixed Verdict
If the jury rules in favor of Apple on some patents, and Samsung on others… Well no one is really sure what will happen. Although, some think it might be a blessing in disguise by forcing the industry to jump-start their creativity.
“If a split decision happens, most sides are going to have to be more careful with innovation,” said Wang, the IBB consultant. “The industry will accelerate new designs that are different from the rectangular slabs out there today.”
Whatever happens, after the chips have landed, one thing is for sure… OK two things. First, the industry will be changed, of that there is very little doubt. Second, there will be appeals and more lawsuits, on that there is even less doubt.