Apple's win hurts the anti-patent movement in valley

This is not a good day for those in Silicon Valley who believe patents tend to be a drag on innovation, a way for entrenched players to attack newcomers. Why not just make the better product and compete in the marketplace, they say.

But tech execs and startup founders beware. Jurors may not be as hip to this line of thinking.

Today a San Jose jury awarded Apple nearly $290 million from Samsung for damages in a patent infringement case, as reported by Howard Mintz in the San Jose Mercury News. 

It’s been a long journey for Apple and Samsung, a death match that will continue until Samsung pays Apple in blood.

After winning a $1 billion award in August of 2012, the judge vacated about $450 million  because she couldn’t figure out how the jury had calculated its award.

The verdict Thursday doesn’t completely validate Apple. After all, it didn’t receive the roughly $400 million it said it deserved.

But look at what the jurors said as they left the court. They wanted to send a message that patents and patent law does matter.

Colleen Allen, the jury forewoman, said the panel agreed their verdict would “set precedent in the future for our patent laws.”

“If we don’t award Apple much, we’re saying it’s OK to infringe out patent laws,” added Allen, an emergency room nurse from Aromas.

The upshot is if your product or service riffs off someone else’s, maybe even does it better and cheaper, juries may show little mercy.

Above: An Apple iPad on display next to a Samsung Galaxy tablet. (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Michelle Quinn Michelle Quinn (146 Posts)

Michelle Quinn is a Business Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. Prior to her current role, she was the Silicon Valley correspondent at Politico covering tech policy and politics. She has also covered the tech industry at the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She was a blogger for the New York Times.