Verdict Shows Samsung Needs to Copy Apple Design

By Adam Satariano, Olga Kharif and Jun Yang

Following last month’s verdict saying Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) infringed Apple Inc. (AAPL) mobile-phone patents, the Korean electronics company faces pressure to copy another attribute of the iPhone maker: its focus on design.

The California jury ruling reinforced Samsung’s image as a follower rather than a trendsetter. The prospect of a ban on eight phones in the U.S. and a damages bill of more than $3 billion ratchets up pressure on Samsung to overhaul how it crafts handsets and give its design team freer rein to take risks. Yet creating the conditions for such a fundamental culture shift won’t be easy and any payoff uncertain in an industry whose creative standard was set by the late Steve Jobs.

“They need to change their innovation model,” said Sohrab Vossoughi, founder of Ziba, a design firm in Portland, Oregon, that counts Samsung among its clients. “Change of cultural mindset is going to be the biggest barrier.”

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