Most technology patent fights are about the innards of a device. The chips, circuitry, antennas and the rest of the stuff consumers take for granted. Apple's (AAPL) war with Samsung was for rights to the way smart devices feel in your hand and interact with your finger tips.
Take out your iPhone and rub your finger over the rounded edge of the device: Apple claims to own it. Note the rounded corners of the icons on the edges of the on-screen apps. Slide your finger across the screen and drag the images until the bounce off of the outer boundary. Pinch the screen to shrink an image; tap with first one, then two fingers.
Apple now officially owns the rights to all of the above. If the ruling holds up on appeal, phone set makers using Google's (GOOG) Android OS will spend years tweaking the "Apple" out of their products.
Apple's History of Re-Innovation
The mouse, the GUI, Windows...
The irony is Apple's history and reputation not as an innovator but rather as a "tweaker" of existing innovations. Next to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak creating the Apple I computer in 1976, the defining moment in the history of Apple is Steve Jobs' 1979 visit to Xerox PARC, the innovation division of Xerox (XRX).
While at PARC Jobs is said to have seen the first graphical user interface with "windows," onscreen menus, and an early version of the mouse controller, which served as the only way most people would navigate around their computers for the next 30 years.
Jobs had a contractor make a cheaper, more durable mouse, refined the windows concept, and mixed in Apple special sauce to create the Macintosh. Nothing in the final Mac product seemed to violate existing products held by Xerox. Apple just tweaked, altered, and manipulated another company's product to create something much, much better.
The Mac development process was to become Apple's M.O. The iPod wasn't the first MP3 player — it was just the first one that used an intuitive design and closed-content ecosystem. Sony (SNE), Napster, Creative Technology, RealNetworks, and just about any other MP3 device maker you haven't thought of in at least 10 years ended up in a legal fight with Apple over various design aspects of the iPod. Some of the companies won settlements from Apple, but they all lost the battle to become the "next Walkman."
The Name iPhone
When Apple dubbed their phone the iPhone, they willfully ignored the fact that Cisco (CSCO) already had a product called Cisco Lynksys iPhone. In 2007 the two companies decided that they could both use the name iPhone. Suffice it to say, Apple ended up doing much more with the name than Cisco was able to accomplish.
Apple doesn't have a history of making new things. They redefine existing things to make them cooler, faster, and better. Ultimately Apple was less defending their content and more just throwing sand in Google's gears. Those looking for a more noble idea patent infringement victory out of this case will need to find it elsewhere.