The landmark decision earlier this week, in which a judge awarded Apple $1 billion in damages from Samsung, likely has little effect on RIM. RIM was not a party to the case, nor are they directly involved with either’s ecosystem. And that might be the most significant aspect of this for them. The case centered on Samsung copying Apple’s iPhone and iPad designs, but it also involved some software aspects of Samsung’s handsets. That’s part of the Android operating system, though, so Apple could pursue further litigation. RIM should be fairly in the clear on this. One widely reported aspect of Apple’s complaints is the pinch-to-zoom feature. It’s intuitive, and it’s on essentially every smartphone. Yet Apple claims to own the patent on that feature. That’s much in dispute, but if Apple can use this decision as precedent then they can go after other manufacturers. It’s already rumored that they could go after many other Android device manufacturers, and perhaps Google itself. RIM does employ a pinch-to-zoom feature, but it doesn’t seem likely Apple would get to them. Apple’s big beef, it seems, is with the Android operating system. Steve Jobs had complained, from the very early days of Android, that the OS outright stole many components of iOS. Going after Android, then, made sense. RIM built a completely clean operating system, one they actually acquired from an outside company. Perhaps Apple could seek royalties on the feature, but they have seemingly less of a leg to stand on, considering RIM doesn’t run Android on handsets. (And I’m sure the Android Player for the PlayBook means a thing in this instance. It just allows certain Android apps to run on the PlayBook OS — and none of the Android core components are compatible with the Android Player.) Even so, there’s already word that Apple and Google are meeting to hash things out. A meeting guarantees nothing, but it appears that Apple isn’t intent on suing the pants off everyone. At least not yet. If they do, however, decided to wage war on all competitors, RIM should be decently shielded. They acquired an operating system and built it out themselves. It has nothing to do with Android, nor has the company ever been accused of copying anything from iOS. It might be tough to be RIM these days, but at least they won’t be adding an Apple lawsuit — at least one the size of the Samsung one — to their ledger.