Apple wins big in Android patent dispute

The ongoing patent wars between mobile device manufacturers featured a decisive battle late Friday, when the jury deliberating on the argument between US company Apple and South Korea’s Samsung found against the Android-focused firm. The US jury awarded Apple damages of $1bn, after ruling that Samsung did indeed infringe several of Apple’s patented designs and features.

Apple is seeking sales bans on 17 Android devices, continuing the crusade of late Apple leader Steve Jobs to “destroy” the rival operating system.

In another development it emerged during the case that Apple also licensed several of its technologies to Microsoft during the development of the latest Windows Phone software. Leaked memos reveal, however, that Apple refused to strike and settlements with the Android camp out of court.

In the aftermath of the ruling, share price falls cut around $12bn off the face of Samsung’s market value.

Yet the case is far from over. Samsung will of course appeal the ruling, and Google has its own patent infringement lawsuit pending against Apple. So it might be that Apple and the Android camp are forced to reach some kind of cross licensing deal, or even see some of their patents invalidated during the course.

As for the impact on Android itself, software can be re-engineered, and many of the patents at the heart of the Samsung-Apple case were Samsung specific, related to non-standard features and hardware design, which limit the impact on the underlying software.

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