Samsung expected to adjust designs after $1B jury award to Apple
Impact on Samsung still seen as minor
Computerworld - Samsung intends to fight Friday's landmark jury award of $1 billion to Apple over smartphone and tablet patent violations -- possibly for years.
But while it fights on, Samsung and other cellphone makers are expected to make changes to future Android smartphone and tablet designs to avoid further patent litigation.
Some analysts suggested Monday that the loss in court could prod Samsung to produce more phones using Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, instead of Google's Android, which played a key role in Apple's arguments to the jury.
Samsung is expected to appeal Friday's verdict, and it has vowed to fight on in nine other countries where it and Apple have filed more than 50 patent-related lawsuits.
In coming months, the South Korean manufacturer will continue to produce new designs and concepts, and some may show up in the Galaxy S IV, which is expected to launch in 2013, analysts said.
"Samsung will need to be far more careful with Google, given most of what they got in trouble for seemed to be sourced in Android," said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group.
"Samsung is not without its own innovations, so coming up with new approaches to Android or betting bigger on Windows Phone should not be ruled out," said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC. Samsung also produces phones based on the Bada operating system, but those devices tend to be unpopular in the United States, even though they usually cost less than other smartphones.
Enderle said Samsung might even license WebOS from Hewlett-Packard, or license patents from HP, Nokia and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. "Expect Samsung to get more creative and be far less trusting of Google," he said.
Florian Mueller, a German writer who pens a blog called Foss Patents, said Samsung will "definitely keep clear of further design patent infringements that can be avoided, especially since design patent infringement is even more expensive under U.S. law than software patent infringement."
But Mueller noted that Samsung has been "hedging its bets for some time" by supporting platforms other than Android. "Samsung is and will continue to be a multi-platform player," he added.
"Since Google is apparently unable to protect Android, Samsung is certainly going to see a benefit in partnerships with companies like Microsoft and Intel that have stronger patent portfolios and are more careful about avoiding infringements than Google, which has a history of pushing the intellectual property envelope," Mueller added.
Llamas said it is "too early to tell" the long-term impact of the jury's action on overall Samsung designs. But many analysts say there are an almost immeasurable number of ways that engineers can alter designs to avoid patent infringements.
Enderle was an exception, however, noting that smartphones whose designs are significantly different from that of the iPhone haven't proved popular. "Radically different designs haven't sold, which is why Samsung [and] Google likely copied Apple in the first place," he said. He added that Samsung will "look at creative ways to get away with their copying going forward."
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