In 2012 Apple, Inc. (Apple) won its patent and trademark infringement claim against Samsung Electronics Company (Samsung). One has to wonder what effect this decision has upon the consumer. Historically, scholars and experts have viewed antitrust laws and intellectual property laws as contradictory. That is, intellectual property laws seek to provide creators exclusive control of certain technology, while at the same time antitrust laws seek to prevent one person or corporation from having monopoly power. However, the more recent belief is that intellectual property and antitrust laws do share the same fundamental goals. The recent ruling in Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. creates an area of confusion. If imitation is not allowed in today’s world, will consumers be forced to pay higher prices for their technology? If prices do increase, are intellectual property laws truly promoting their goal of protecting the consumer?
This case has the potential to end the “imitation age” of the electronics industry. If companies such as Samsung are penalized for their attempt to create a successful product, even at the expense of originality, then many companies will be fearful of mimicking others. This will make it difficult for companies to create unique products as easily, quickly, or inexpensively as they have been able to do. This will affect the consumer because it will lower the number of available choices and increase prices.
Part II of this note will discuss the facts of the case between Apple and Samsung. Part III will discuss trade dress, trademarks, and patents. Part V describes the significance and implications of Apple’s victory in this case. Lastly, part VI will conclude the topics presented in this note and part VII is an appendix that includes photographs of the electronics at issue.