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Suing Samsung: Apple's Bid To Protect Its Brand Has Big Risks

Publication Date: 
April 21, 2011
The Huffington Post
Amy Lee

Professor Mark Lemley is quoted in The Huffington Post regarding Apple's effort to send a message to consumers and the industry via their recent lawsuit against Samsung.

Apple's lawsuit against Samsung makes it obvious the Cupertino company is fiercely protective of its intellectual property. A win would force Samsung to cease production, though the likely outcome seems to be settlement, and not shutdown.

If Apple can make its case, it will effectively warn the rest of the industry that its aesthetic is sacred with a marketing coup on brand protection. But should the suit falter, Apple will open up the field for all and any competitor to begin working off of Apple's distinctive look and feel, rendering Apple's devices less distinctive.


"The horse has left the barn as to the phone and the Android platform. You could win a lawsuit and force someone to redesign, but they're not going to pull their phones and redesign," said Mark Lemley, Professor at Stanford Law School. "But maybe you send a message to folks who haven't yet designed the tablet, but are planning to do so."


"This suit is part of a public relations campaign. The message they're sending is not to Samsung, it's to consumers: 'We're real, we're the original, these people are just a pale imitation,'" said Lemley.


"If they shut down Samsung, they'd have to redesign, or Apple could lose and have sufficiently pissed off Samsung that it drops them and they run into a product shortage," said Lemley. "Neither of those outcomes is very likely. We are jockeying for position here. They're trying to trip up the Android network, but at the end of the day, maybe some money changes hands and they settle."