Austin Powers and the $1 billion Apple Verdict

When I saw the above referenced headline on CNN’s Tech website, I had two, nearly simultaneous, reactions.  First, I had to re-read the headline.  A jury in Caifornia just awarded Apple a BILLION dollars?  With a “b”?  Yes, kids, that’s “billion.”  With a “b.”  My next, less professional, reaction was to cite a string of my favorite quotes from the movie Austin Powers.  Oh, that Dr. Evil! (We’ll wait for you here while you go watch the movie clip for yourself.).

We have been tracking the Apple-Samsung worldwide feud for months now; last November, we blogged about Apple’s victory in Australia in the so-called “tablet wars” – a federal court in Australia granted Apple an injunction against Samsung, preventing Samsung from selling its tablet device “Galaxy Tab 10.1″ in Australia.  Apple alleged that Samsung infringed on “two of its patents relating to touch screens and the gestures that control them.”  Samsung faced similar troubles here in the United States.

This recent verdict was awarded in California federal court over the companies’ respective smartphones – Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy.  The jury determined that Samsung was guilty of “willful” violations of Apple’s patents.  It started out even bigger, but was reduced by $2.5 million when some inconsistencies surfaced in the jury’s award.  Apple had put an even bigger number “up on the board,” so to speak – $2.7 billion.  I am sure that the lawyer writing that closing had to say that figure, out loud, many times to keep it from absolutely catching in his or her throat.  Could you imagine asking a jury for that amount?  With a straight face?  But, I digress.

It is not surpristing that this award represents the largest patent infringement verdict in history.  Still to be decided is the issue of injunctions, and whether Samsung will be able to continue to sell its phone in the United States.  We’ll be watching for that decision, for sure.  In the meantime, we leave you with the quote that partially inspired this post:

Number Two: Don’t you think we should ask for *more* than a million dollars? A million dollars isn’t exactly a lot of money these days. Virtucon alone makes over 9 billion dollars a year!

Dr. Evil: Really? That’s a lot of money.

[pause]

Dr. Evil: Okay then, we hold the world ransom for… One… Hundred… BILLION DOLLARS!

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