NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- There's always been a fine line between "flattery" and theft. After all, it's broadly understood that imitation is the best form of flattery. While that may be great with best friends who may decide to buy the same dress, in the corporate world too much flattery keeps lawyers employed.
There's no better example of this today than what has been going on between tech giants Apple (AAPL) and its suit against South Korean giant Samsung.
Since recently becoming the world's No. 1 device manufacturer topping Nokia (NOK) in terms of sales, Samsung has earned more than its share of attention from Apple. Samsung, whose Galaxy devices are based on Google's (GOOG) Android platform, have proven to be the only true challenger to the iPhones and iPads.
Now we know why. Apple, which has long claimed that Samsung willfully copied its design, has been awarded $1 billion by a jury which found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple's patents.The verdict only made official what everyone already presumed to be true. It is no secret that Samsung drew a considerable amount of inspiration from the original iPhone launched January 2007. Prior to that, Samsung's models more closely resembled phones from Nokia and to some extent, Blackberry models from Research in Motion (RIMM) with no touch screen. However, after Apple released its first iPhone, things changed for Samsung as its design suddenly got slicker with touch capabilities. These facts did not escape the verdict. What's more, as substantial as the $1 billion penalty may be, there remains the possibility that it can triple by virtue of the fact that Samsung's actions were considered deliberate. Apple has essentially sent a clear message to the rest of the industry that it will not let its hard work in R&D and other capital investments be stolen by rivals with track records of inferior designs. In other words, it is time of rivals to start planting their own trees. Impressively, with one single verdict, Apple is able to weaken two primary rivals in Samsung and Google, which licenses its Android operating system to the South Korean company's phones as well as tablets.
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