Apple, Samsung verdict may shape the future of technology


(CBS News) Apple and Samsung are nearing the end of an unprecedented court battle that's spanned almost a month and shed light on the fight for the technology behind smartphones and tablets.

Apple, Samsung face off in US court over patents
CNET: The ABCs of Apple v. Samsung

As the two companies prepare to make closing remarks Tuesday, industry analysts are weighing in on how the verdict may send ripples through the technology sector.

Apple is suing Samsung for allegedly knocking off its popular iPhone and iPad. The computer giant is seeking $2.5 billion in damages. Samsung denied the charges and has countersued Apple for $422 million.

In an article Sunday, the New York Times suggested that smartphone and tablet makers will be forced to stray from Apple's design for fear of facing a patent lawsuit. On the other hand if Samsung wins, analysts predict that Apple-like designs may begin to flood the market.

Last month, ComputerWorld's David Price argued that the industry thus far has relied too heavily on Apple for design inspiration and that a win for Apple may force smartphone and tablet makers to innovate out of fear of being sued.

"Up until now, let's face it, even if they aren't truly copying the iPad, rival tablet makers are at the very least using it as a rough template," Price argued. "A thumping Apple win could encourage more innovation."

Contradictory arguments suggest that if Apple wins, it will stifle innovation. Earlier this month, Mashable editor in chief Lance Ulanoff suggested the underlying issue may be the inflexibility of the U.S. patent system.

"Medical, scientific and technological breakthroughs start with the raw materials of someone else's work. We call this progress," Ulanoff argued. "The patent system seems to call this theft. The truth may be somewhere in the middle."

Several analysts believe that the real fight for Apple is not Samsung's design similarities, but Google's mobile operating system Android. So why isn't Apple going after Google - yet?

"One likely reason is that Android is free and Google doesn't profit directly from sharing the OS with phone makers. Samsung, on the other hand, chooses to use Android and is generating revenue upon which Apple can calculate damages," speculates CNET senior writer Greg Sandoval. "Samsung also makes for an easier target. Apple can compare the iPhone with Samsung's handsets side by side."

Following the closing arguments Tuesday, nine jurors will deliberate this week over the fate of Apple, Samsung and perhaps the future of the tech industry.