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Smartphone dispute shows unique view of business litigation

The dispute between Apple and Samsung over patents for smartphone technology finally reached a resolution late last month, when a jury returned a $2.75 billion verdict in favor of Apple.

The high profile case gave Virginia residents and readers around the world a rare glimpse into the way that companies and the court system handles complex business litigation. Especially through the release of the jury verdict form, many interested readers found out more about how verdicts are reached and how damages in these types of cases are calculated.

Much of the focus of the discussion on the verdict in this case has been on the implications for intellectual property and patent law litigation. However, the issue that is more relevant to many Fairfax businesses is the way that litigation can affect a company's reputation, both for better and worse.

One of the main features of litigation is that a large amount of information that was once private within the company becomes a part of the public record. For some businesses this can be helpful and can clear their name if they have been accused of wrongdoing. For others, the revelations found in previously confidential documents or emails might harm their reputation within a small community.

In Apple's case, the litigation showcased years of hard work an innovation from a research and development perspective. It also revealed a lot of information about how the notoriously secretive company operates and creates new products. Some consumers found the company's tactics admirable and impressive, while others found the lengths they go to in order to retain proprietary technology to be excessive.

In addition to the intellectual property dispute, the two parties also argued over antitrust allegations and breach of contract claims.

Industry watchers say that the intellectual property issues presented in this case will likely be back in courtrooms around the world in the coming years, as competition intensifies in the consumer electronics market.

Our Fairfax County law firm assists local businesses with a variety of disputes, including litigation. More information can be found on our website.

Source: Ars Technica, "Apple v. Samsung verdict is in: $1 billion loss for Samsung," Joe Mullin, August 24, 2012.

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