I do not have the legal expertise to weigh in on the decision, except to say that I found some of Samsung's core arguments quite compelling when one considers that they had prototypes in development before Apple ever launched iPhone 1. But they lost and the implications for consumers are fairly serious. This means that Apple has moved a step closer to copyrighting "form" rather than function. Think of the classic Coke bottle I used as the illustration for this post (I know, you were thinking, what is wrong with this guy?). This is a famous example of a copyright exception to the distinction between form and function. Copyright has traditionally not let anyone copyright a "form" because it would give the copyright holder a complete monopoly. No one has a copyright on a skateboard, because the basic form is essential to the function. If a skateboard company could copyright that shape it would destroy the market because no one else could make skateboards. Instead the brand, logo, and art designs of the skateboards are trademarked.
But Apple has moved a step closer to copyrighting, patenting, or trademarking, a form with this case. In the case of Coke it didn't really matter, because soda tastes the same regardless of the bottle- it didn't hurt the soda market or development of new sodas. But this situation is more like my skateboard analogy. In a world of massive innovation and development, the form of skateboards has remained relatively unchanged since the early 90s. This is in spite of the fact that skateboarding is very closely connected to the tech community and is loaded with extremely innovative minds and creative thinkers. In fact, everything in the sport has changed and progressed except for the basic form of the actual skateboard itself. Even now when we are finally starting to leave the standard building material, hard rock maple wood, the basic form of the board is staying the same. That is because the form of skateboards has reached its zenith, just like a hammer. Hammers and skateboards aren't changing- and won't be changing- form any time soon. They may end up with embedded video players, usb ports and other tech innovations, but the form will remain the same- because no other form is as good for their particular functions.
This is what concerns me about Apple's push to control the form of the smartphone. Because smartphones have developed a lot of similarities to skateboards and hammers over the past few years. Think about what has changed about a smartphone and you will most likely be thinking display resolution, quad core chips, apps, and just about everything other than form. Most of the changes in form are cosmetic. Sure, they are getting bigger, but that is an issue of scale rather than form. I ride a 32" long, 8.5" wide skateboard, but it is the same form as my old 7.5" I used to ride. The difference is more like a preference for Coke over Pepsi.
On the positive side, I don't see how Apple could pull it off, and large well funded companies are always trying to find ways to leverage the law to artificially enhance their market. But with the current upheaval and unrest in the field of copyright (see my post quoting an outlandish statement by the copyright registrar) now is the best time for an extremely large and well funded company to accomplish this type of goal. The best examination of the ruling from a consumer or techie perspective is at Extreme Tech. It's a quick read and worth the time.