The Apple-Samsung patent mega-trial is approaching the finish line, but the consequences for users of all smartphones may be just beginning.
The case was between Apple and Samsung only, and a California jury ruled largely in favor of Apple -- but if the ruling stands it has the potential to force other major smartphone companies to make big changes.
"There are so many patents in a single phone, and these patent wars are raging every day in courts around the world," said Mike Carrier, professor at Rutgers Law School. "The goalpost for what's allowed moves every day, and customers need to keep that in mind."
The trial's complexity has left even industry experts mixed on how the ripple effect will manifest, but here's what you, the consumer, need to know about how the case could affect you:
If you own a Samsung phone: A total of 21 Samsung devices, some of which include multiple versions of the same model, were found to infringe on Apple patents. The list includes the Galaxy S and S II, the Droid Charge and the Galaxy Prevail.
On Monday, Apple requested an injunction against those devices for violating patents including pinch-zooming bounce-back scrolling, hardware styling and the appearance of icons on the screen. If the judge grants the injunction, Samsung could be forced to take those gadgets off the market until they are changed.
Customers who own the devices in question don't need to worry that anyone will take their phones away, even if Apple gets the injunction. Samsung could license Apple's software patents to continue keeping all of its phones features intact. But some legal experts note it's possible that those phones could receive a software update that tweaks how they look and work -- for example, changes to zooming action.
If you own any Android phone, not necessarily a Samsung model: The Apple-Samsung verdict could potentially affect all smartphone titans, but Android maker Google is the first on that list.
That's because the Android software that got Samsung in trouble is relatively the same across manufacturers. Armed with patents now deemed valid by at least one jury, Apple could go on to sue Google and its phone partners for similar software infringements.
JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth called the verdict "a setback for [the] Android ecosystem" in a note to clients on Monday, warning that both Google and its partners "will likely now have to work around certain features of the operating system and their devices."
Android users could see those workarounds in a software update that changes how some features work. Even the threat of that could be enough to give consumers pause when buying their next smartphone, some experts believe.
"It's a psychological victory for Apple," said Carrier the Rutgers law professor. "Now it's in the back of consumers' minds: Will my phone work the same way in a few months? Even if the answer is yes, the seed of doubt is there."
If you're looking to buy a new phone and are worried about buying a Samsung: The final ruling on this trial could come long after your new smartphone becomes old hat. Even before the jury came back, industry experts expected any decision in the complex case would be appealed -- which could set off another long legal battle.
Even if an injunction is granted against Samsung's devices, there's a strong possibility that ruling will be postponed by a higher court.
If you're still really concerned about the power that Apple could wield against Samsung and its other rivals, Apple did hold up two companies as an example of designs it deems unique: Research in Motion's BlackBerry and Nokia's slate of phones.
If you own or are interested in buying a Samsung tablet: This category offered one spot of good news for Samsung: The jury ruled that Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablets did not infringe on Apple's design patents for the iPad.
That means the Tab's hardware style and icon layout are allowed to stay the same. But the software infringements apply here, so like Samsung phones, the tablets could receive changes to their features.