A jury ruling in Apple’s favour over Samsung in the US District Court earlier this week could have a chilling effect on rivals, leaving them scrambling for alternatives to common touch-screen gestures used in many smartphones today.
The awarded $1.05 billion has affected Samsung’s stock price, and may limit its access to the coveted US marketplace. While Samsung will appeal, Apple indicated it will seek an injunction against the Korean tech giant to further its market share.
Samsung will not suffer alone.
All software designers are now faced with the challenge of developing alternatives to touch-screen technology. Samsung reportedly has already created design-arounds for some of the patented features. However, expect delays and awkward fixes in the near future from competitors as they scramble to create software workarounds. This ruling could hamper smartphone innovation because it’s hard to see how a smartphone other than the iconic iPhone can be competitive without using these commonplace touch-screen gestures (the patents were directed to inventions such as one-finger scrolling on a touch screen and pinch zooming).
Some in the media have argued the decision will actually accelerate innovation as designers are forced to explore new solutions. In a competitive market where lack of access to patents can not only bar the use of features customers have come to expect, but also lead to the loss of a competitive edge, contractual agreements between parties and increased market share consolidation through M&A activity are possible solutions to ensure continued patent access, and may be an increasingly common tool in the arsenal of smartphone makers.