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How To Avoid Infringing On Apple's Patents 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the easy-as-pie dept.
bdking writes "In a public legal brief (PDF), Apple offers numerous design alternatives that Samsung could have used for its smartphones and tablets to avoid infringing on Apple's patents. Basically, as long as competitors' smartphones and tablets bear no resemblance to smartphones and tablets, everything's cool."
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How To Avoid Infringing On Apple's Patents

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  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday December 05, 2011 @06:51PM (#38273260) Homepage

    Even dumb phones have rectangular screens, and according to Apple those are not allowed.

  • Re:ok so... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:05PM (#38273506)

    Squares are rectangular.

  • Re:obvious choices (Score:3, Informative)

    by mr1911 (1942298) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:08PM (#38273544)

    Even worse is that the remaining items reflect aesthetic choices on the part of Apple (no adornment, for example). Such choices should indeed be protected, but they are not inventions which deserve patent protection. Instead they are identifying marks which should be protected under trademark law.

    No. Such features can be claimed under a design patent.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:31PM (#38273876)

    That's absurd and insulting!

    Jobs was Buddhist. He's obviously a ringworm in the bowels of Steve Ballmer.

  • Re:ok so... (Score:4, Informative)

    by msauve (701917) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:34PM (#38273924)
    "To me, this case is the same as if IBM in its early days would have gone after anyone (including Apple) selling some sort of computational device consisting of a box to house everything in, some sort of rectangual screen and an input device consisting of letters and numbers - and tried to maintain a no competition policy using the courts to back its business plan."

    Because, of course, this [zdnet.co.uk] looks so much like this [theoldcomputer.com]. If you're referring to the IBM PC, Apple was there first.
  • by david.emery (127135) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:37PM (#38273948)

    Basically, as long as competitors' smartphones and tablets bear no resemblance to smartphones and tablets, everything's cool.
    But that's just recognition that Apple has completely defined 2 new categories. It's worth noting, of course, that Palm had smartphones well before Apple, but those look -nothing like- today's Smartphones, a category basically taken over by the introduction of the iPhone.

    I'm looking forward to someone/some company doing something truly original. I don't think the iPhone is the last word in "smartphones" (I hope not, although I'm on my second iPhone there are things I really don't like about it.) But so far I've seen very little that is new or truly innovative.

  • Re:ok so... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:00PM (#38274230) Homepage

    Repeat after Telvin_3D

    Design Patent is more like copyright then a 'real' patent.

    You have to copy pretty much everything to get into trouble. And that Samsung did. They could have used a rectangular case with rounded corners, a dark black bezel with two silver or tastefully grey lines running through the bezel and put the speakers on the side - they would have been fine.

  • Re:Does this help? (Score:4, Informative)

    by itsdapead (734413) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:40PM (#38274668)

    Not have a flat front? Not be rectangular? Not use black?

    Remember - those are ANDs not ORs... or, at least, you need a 'critical mass' of those attributes to infringe.

    I've had 4 cellphones (not a great cellphone person!).

    Only one of them was black.

    Only two of them were rectangular (i.e. 4 straight edges) and while they had rounded-off corners they were much less pronounced than on an iDevice.

    None of them had a flat front (and definitely not flat in the iPhone "single sheet of glass" sense), two had soapbar-style bevelled edges and one of them has the "chin" which featured on the first few generations of Android phone.

    The Kindle 3 doesn't break Apple's rules (its a rectangle with rounded corners, but the bezel is gently curved and its grey, not black), the ASUS transformer doesn't (front has bevelled edges - not flat, bezel isn't uniform) and plenty of other manufacturers past an present have managed to make phones, ereaders and tablets that don't look like iDevices.

  • Re:ok so... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gnasher719 (869701) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:06PM (#38274880)

    You have to copy pretty much everything to get into trouble. And that Samsung did. They could have used a rectangular case with rounded corners, a dark black bezel with two silver or tastefully grey lines running through the bezel and put the speakers on the side - they would have been fine.

    People should really take time to read this disposition. Firstly, the advice that Apple gives how to make a design that is not covered by Apple's design patent is in each case accompanied by exhibits - so there are in each case one or several actual products that do exactly what Apple asks Samsung to do.

    Second, Samsung seems to have come up with a list of items that they claim are prior art. And the expert witness then says "this is not prior art because it is different in this respect. This is not prior art because it is different in that respect. etc. etc.". In other words, each of the designs that Samsung claimed as prior art wouldn't be infringing on Apple's design patent because they are different.

    To be in trouble, a design must match Apple's design patent in every single aspect. One difference, and Samsung would have been safe.

  • Re:So .... (Score:2, Informative)

    by gnasher719 (869701) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:23PM (#38275060)

    I guess that means don't even bother innovating or building anything. I hate the patent system - it has become so broken as to be sorry. I thought patents should protect truly innovative ideas not commonly thought up things such as shapes. What next, someone will try and patent the tri-angle (hyphenated on purpose.)

    You should have read the article. It contains pages of exhibits of actual products that made different design choices. It discusses pages of exhibits of what Samsung claimed was prior art and which is actually quite different from the iPhone; each of these designs would have been fine from Apple's point of view. Samsung is very welcome to innovate by creating a design that is not a copy of Apple's.

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:39PM (#38275188)

    Even dumb phones have rectangular screens, and according to Apple those are not allowed.

    You didn't read the article, or you wouldn't have posted such nonsense. Any manufacturer is allowed to use any single detail of the design used in the iPhone or iPad. It is the sum of all those details that is the problem. Apple has a design patent for A + B + C + D + E. You claim "A is not allowed according to Apple". False. A is allowed. B is allowed. A + B is allowed. A + B + C + D + E is what is not allowed, and A + B + D + E might get you into trouble.

  • Re:ok so... (Score:1, Informative)

    by kiwirob (588600) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:39PM (#38275608) Homepage
    Go have read about what Design Patents are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_patent [wikipedia.org] .

    The design patents are not "technology" patents and "logical progressive steps" are completely irrelevant. Design Patents stop some Korean or Chinese company producing a car that looks exactly the same as a Corvette and selling under their own brand in the USA. The purpose is to stop customer confusion and "knock off" products. For christ sake in the Australian Samsung V Apple Lawsuit the Judge held up an iPad and a Samsung Galaxy Tab in each hand and asked Samsung's head lawyer which was his clients product. Guess what he couldn't tell them apart from 10 feet away.

    This is NOT a Andriod/Open Source Vs iOS/Walled Garden issue. It's about Samsung intentially making their products as close as possible as Apples to trick customers (the dumb ones who are idiots, not the Slashdot hacker) into buying it thinking it's an Apple or exactly the same as an Apple product. Out of all the Andriod phone and Tablet makers how come Samsung's look almost identical to Apple products right down to the 30 pin USB connector and white shipping box identical to Apples. http://gizmodo.com/5845036/samsung-has-like-totally-never-copied-apples-designs/gallery/1 [gizmodo.com] . HTC, Motorola, Blackberry and everybody else can come up with unique designs, but Samsung can't??? Time to get real here please.
  • Re:ok so... (Score:5, Informative)

    by khipu (2511498) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:53PM (#38275732)

    The LG Prada was announced and described about a month before the first iPhone. It has all the design elements that Apple is claiming. In fact, LG K850 still looks like a very nice and elegant phone next to the iPhone 4S.

  • Re:ok so... (Score:3, Informative)

    by teh31337one (1590023) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:55PM (#38275742)

    SO: If Samsung had phones that were larger than the iPhone, OR they had capacitive buttons on the side of the home button, OR a camera module that wasn't in the top left corner, OR power button that wasn't on the top of the phone, OR speakers that aren't on the bottom of the device, OR a logo on the front of the device, they wouldn't be infringing?

  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Monday December 05, 2011 @11:55PM (#38276138) Homepage

    If it's so completely outlandish how is it that everybody but Samsung seems to have no problems whatsoever

    Samsung isn't the only company Apple has sued. They just happen to be the first ones to counter-sue, hence why all the news is about them.

    As I recall, Apple has also sued HTC, Motorola, and Amazon.

  • Re:ok so... (Score:4, Informative)

    by VGPowerlord (621254) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:06AM (#38276222) Homepage

    If Samsung had changed a single thing on their products there would be no case.

    The dimensions are different and doesn't Samsung's tablet have more than one button.

    No, because the tablet being sued over is the 10.1, which has no face buttons.

    Which is itself different from the iPad, which has one face button.

  • Who copied whom? (Score:4, Informative)

    by dave87656 (1179347) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @02:59AM (#38277000)

    There's a pretty good comparison of how the orginal ipod copied a samsung mp3 player. Apple didn't invent the smartphone, either, they extended what palm was doing. Even MAC OS was copied from work Xerox was doing at Xerox parc. It's just that you couldn't patent software back then and now you can. I'm not sure when copyrights came into play.

    In fact, copying others has always been Apples strategy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU [youtube.com]

    "Good artists copy, great artists steal" ... "we've always been shameless about stealing great ideas" -- Steve Jobs

  • by Canazza (1428553) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @03:55AM (#38277258)

    So, not Acer: http://blog.dialaphone.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/acer-tablet1.jpg [dialaphone.co.uk]
    or Motorola: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Technology/Pix/pictures/2011/4/27/1303887422785/Motorola-Xoom-tablet-005.jpg [guim.co.uk]
    or the HP Touchpad: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41I6VtL6D%2BL._SL500_AA300_.jpg [images-amazon.com]
    or the Advent Vega: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent_Vega [wikipedia.org]
    or the Sony Tablet S: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fa/Sony_Tablet_S.jpg/300px-Sony_Tablet_S.jpg [wikimedia.org]
    or the Viewsonic G: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/49/ViewSonic_G_Tablet.JPG/220px-ViewSonic_G_Tablet.JPG [wikimedia.org]

    no, none of these look remotely like an iPad. Except the Xoom, cause Apple have tried to sue Motorola for them. The rest haven't been sued because they're not black, with rounded edges and a single button with a rectangular screen.

  • by Canazza (1428553) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @05:53AM (#38277706)

    what about that bit of the article that lists Apples complaints?

    Hardware and software trade dress claims

            a rectangular product shape with all four corners uniformly rounded;
            the front surface of the product dominated by a screen surface with black borders;
            as to the iPhone and iPod touch products, substantial black borders above and below the screen having roughly equal width and narrower black borders on either side of the screen having roughly equal width;
            as to the iPad product, substantial black borders on all sides being roughly equal in width;
            a metallic surround framing the perimeter of the top surface;
            a display of a grid of colorful square icons with uniformly rounded corners; and
            a bottom row of square icons (the "Springboard") set off from the other icons and that do not change as the other pages of the user interface are viewed.

    Packaging trade dress claims

            a rectangular box with minimal metallic silver lettering and a large front-viewpicture of the product prominently on the top surface of the box;
            a two-piece box wherein the bottom piece is completely nested in the top piece; and
            use of a tray that cradles products to make them immediately visible upon opening the box.

    Looks to me like it's mostly LOLRectangle followed by a few LOLSquareIcons and LOLDesktop

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