That Samsung is a serial technology and intellectual property thief is well known and public knowledge. The Korean company has been sued many times by competitors through the years, and often loses in court and required to settle with the infringed. Witness the recent loss of about $120-million awarded to Apple for patent infringement, on the heels of another $900-million for similar misdeeds last year.
So, there is a penalty for stealing intellectual property from Apple, right?
penalty |ˈpenltē| noun (pl. penalties)
1 a punishment imposed for breaking a law, rule, or contract: the charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment.
• a disadvantage or unpleasant experience suffered as the result of an action or circumstance: the cold never leaves my bones these days—one of the penalties of age.
2 (in sports and games) a disadvantage or handicap imposed on a player or team, typically for infringement of rules.
Even with seemingly huge awards to Apple which exceed $1-billion, can such amounts even be considered penalties?
Samsung has been the world’s top smartphone maker for almost two and a half years; nearly 10 quarters. Apple is a distant second, though the iPhone maker accounts for the majority of the industry’s profits. And while Samsung’s profits drop, Apple’s are on the rise.
Still, a $1-billion penalty for patent infringement must have been at the center of Samsung’s recent earnings drop, right? No.
Samsung’s profits, though down, still average nearly $8-billion per quarter. Put another way, that’s over $600-million in profits per week. Per week. Even if Samsung had to pay Apple a few billion dollars in penalties for patent infringement, the whole totals would be less than a few weeks of profits for the Galaxy smartphone and tablet maker; and far less than it would cost the company to design and build their own creations. That’s hard work and it costs money.
In essence, there is no penalty for Samsung’s blatant ripoff of technology from other companies. Last quarter Apple spent $1.5-billion on Research and Development costs. By stealing Apple’s designs and technology Samsung does not need to spend as much money on R&D as Apple.
It’s been said that Apple was once Microsoft’s personal R&D department, with Windows being a blatant copy of the Mac’s OS from back in the day. Microsoft’s penalty for such thievery was untold riches and PC industry domination that continues to this day.
How is Samsung’s position today any different?
The Korean conglomerate steals designs and intellectual property from competitors because it knows the court systems seldom provide protection or relief for the companies abused by Samsung. That strategy is known as ‘steal and stall‘ and it works very well.
The buying public is too blind to Samsung’s misdeeds to care. All they want is a smartphone or tablet that works like an iPhone or an iPad at half the price. That’s what Samsung sells.