Most Apple-Samsung patent trial watchers hold the same assumptions about potential outcomes: If Apple(s AAPL) wins, the judgment will show current and future copycats the price to pay for imitating Apple products. If Samsung wins, it’s a license for anyone to develop and sell products that could be possibly confused for Apple’s best-selling designs, ultimately hurting Apple’s bottom line.

But what if the opposite is true? UBS analyst Steven Milunovich put forth a thoughtful note to clients Tuesday arguing that it’s ultimately in Apple’s best interest if it loses this case against Samsung. How could that possibly be? Here’s the argument:

In the short- to intermediate-term, an Apple win forcing competitors to come up with different designs should be positive because Apple is a better designer and could have a monopoly on key features. In the long run, however, it could hurt Apple because the real threat is not a competitor beating Apple…

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