Apple came out on top this afternoon in its landmark patent battle with Samsung, as a jury in California awarded the iPhone maker more than $1 billion in damages — largely agreeing that many of Samsung’s Android-based devices violate Apple’s patents.
The news is being well-received in Redmond, where Microsoft’s Windows Phone team has taken a decidedly different approach to its user interface, with a tile-based UI that has also been adopted by Xbox and Windows 8.
An appeal by Samsung is widely expected, and a settlement is still possible in the form of a licensing agreement between the companies.
But regardless of the ultimate outcome, the verdict could put pressure on Google and makers of Android devices to take a different approach to their products, to avoid infringing on Apple’s design patents.
The fact that Microsoft has already distinguished its interface gives it a competitive advantage in that regard. Windows Phone has single-digit market share, but Microsoft is hoping to become a viable No. 3, at least, behind Android and iPhone, in mobile operating systems.
During the trial, Apple patent executive Boris Teksler cited Microsoft as an exception to Apple’s normal practice of declining to license its design patents to other companies, saying that a patent cross-licensing deal between Microsoft and Apple includes some of the same types of patents in dispute in the Samsung case. However, the Apple-Microsoft agreement includes a provision that prevents “cloning,” the executive said.
On its face, the verdict today is posthumous vindication for Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who described Android as a “stolen product” and vowed to “destroy” it.