Apple (AAPL) vs. Samsung verdict may signal end of litigation

The jury has awarded Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) the relatively trivial amount of $119 million dollars from Samsung for a handful of patent violations, about 1/18th the sum sought in damages by the Cupertino firm. Out of five patents involved, only three were deemed to be violated by Samsung. For a firm of Samsung’s size, $119 million is largely a slap on the wrist, especially since Apple will likely not collect it any time soon and an appeal is inevitable.

Apple’s response to the matter, however, attempts to cast this extremely muted partial success as a major victory. In a statement to Re/Code, the California firm claimed full vindication, and that the “ruling reinforces” the globally known fact that “Samsung willfully stole our ideas and copied our products.” This is a rather triumphalist spin on a success which was very close to being a total defeat. The jury placed final damages of $119 million far closer to Samsung’s estimated of $38 million than Apple’s $2.2 billion.

The words Moment of Truth on a clock to illustrate it is time toOne highly suggestive fact is that the two patents which the jury held were not infringing are those which Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) had agreed to pay the damages for should Samsung lose. Since the jury asked a number of questions about Steve Jobs’ 2011 declaration of a no-holds-barred attack on Google, their ruling on these two patents suggests that they may believe that Apple (AAPL) is patent trolling, and using vague patent allegations as a cloak for attacks on a rival aimed not at reestablishing justice, but at simply hurting a competitor.

The evidence suggests that Apple Inc. (AAPL) may indeed try suing Samsung again as part of what Steve Jobs called its “Holy War” against Samsung and Google (GOOG). After all, zeal is one of the characteristics of a crusader. However, the small award in the recent case may indicate that juries have had enough of Apple’s tone of self-righteous indignation and are starting to view pursuit of further damages as exaggerated and irrational.

How many awards, after all, are needed to cover the violation of a few vaguely-worded patents owned by one of the richest tech firms in the world? Most people have no axe to grind in the fray between the two electronics companies. There is almost a hint of “enough is enough” to the small, partial award given to Apple, an indication that the informed part of the public thinks it is time for Apple to accept its winnings gracefully and move on.

(Author’s take: Apple Inc. (AAPL) has enough traits of the patent troll to fail to take that lesson to heart. Another Apple v. Samsung lawsuit seems likely. Next time, however, the jury may well award Apple nothing – or even call on it pay court costs for both parties or the like.)