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Samsung's Comparison of Galaxy S To iPhone 383

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bring-back-keyboards dept.
david.emery writes "In a document from the ongoing Samsung/Apple trial, provided in both English translation and Korean original, Samsung engineers provided a detailed comparison of user interface features in their phone against the iPhone. In almost all cases, the recommendation was to adopt the iPhone's approach. Among other observations, this shows how much work goes into defining the Apple iPhone user experience." Ars has an article on the evidence offered by Apple so far.
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Samsung's Comparison of Galaxy S To iPhone

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  • What if the iPhone really is that innovative in the smartphone arena that only Apple can provide smartphones? Then they have a monopoly, and the DoJ tends to get upset with monopolies that appear to be unreasonably restraining consumer choice raising prices, or both.

    Just ask Microsoft. They, arguably, have never recovered from the antitrust suit. Does Apple want to go down that path?

    • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:33AM (#40918595) Journal
      There are few if any issues w/Apple having monopoly in phones.

      The issue comes up when Apple (or any other Microsoft) uses their monopoly in one area to leverage their position in another (think "shutting off the air supply to Netscape").

      • by ACluk90 (2618091)
        This would be a huge problem for Apple, considering how much they earn through 3rd party apps being sold through the app-store. These approx. 30% would then almost certainedly be lowered, considering that this number is just insane.
        • by Americano (920576)

          considering how much they earn through 3rd party apps being sold through the app-store

          Actually, "how much they earn through 3rd party apps being sold" is very little in their overall revenues. You should check that out sometime - Apple could close up the App Store tomorrow and only notice a small hit in their revenue - they make their money off of hardware sales, by and large -- NOT software sales.

      • by DrXym (126579)
        Well they've certainly done that time and again in their marketplace.
      • 1) They don't have a monopoly in phones, they have much less than 50% of the market

        2) They don't have a monopoly in smart phones, they have much less than 50% of the market

        3) They don't have a monopoly in smart phones in the USA, they have much less than 50% of the market

        They currently have a large part of the Tablet market....

        • by sFurbo (1361249)
          In the UK, a merger that will result in a company having more than 25% market share can be prohibited under the monopoly laws, so 50% might not be the correct percentage to cehck for. However, I don't think any countries prohibit monopolies, just using those monopolies to distort the market in certain ways.
      • Restated for a different era:

        There are few if any issues w/AT&T having a monopoly in phones.
        The issue comes up when AT&T (or any other monopoly) uses their monoply in one area to leverage their position in another (think "shutting down the air supply of innovators)

        Is the problem with monopolies perhaps more clear now? They *ALWAYS* end in less innovation... ALWAYS.

    • by Dupple (1016592) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:33AM (#40918597)

      I don't think that will happen. There are plenty of implementations that apple doesn't think infringe. The phone market isn't like the PC market was at all. The numbers are open to interpretation, but apple isn't the number one phone manufacturer and the don't have number one market share. A monopoly isn't a hazard for apple

    • A government grant of monopoly. Then they expire, and the monopoly is over. If the government does not like such monopolies, then it should stop issuing patents.

      • by sjbe (173966) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:21AM (#40919185)

        A government grant of monopoly. Then they expire, and the monopoly is over. If the government does not like such monopolies, then it should stop issuing patents.

        The government doesn't mind monopolies and in some cases monopolies are actually useful. Patents are granted because a *temporary* monopoly is a lesser evil than the Free Rider problem [wikipedia.org]. Some monopolies are hard to avoid (utilities) and some are regulated. The problem is when monopolies start to abuse their power in ways that hurt consumers or the economy in general. Standard Oil was broken up because having a single unregulated company in controlling the nation's energy supply was demonstrably dangerous. You can argue that patents are too long or issued for frivolous "inventions" but they exist for a very good reason. Monopolies as such aren't the problem - unchecked monopolies sometimes are and that is when the government worries about them.

    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:44AM (#40918719)

      Two problems with what you've said:
      1) A monopoly on smartphones is not a monopoly at all, since dumbphones still account for the majority of the market. Companies have tried to sue Apple in the past for having a monopoly on the Mac market and using it to their advantage, but they've always been dismissed since Macs are merely a part of the larger PC market, and a rather small part at that.

      2) Having a monopoly is not necessarily a problem. It's when a monopoly acts in an anti-competitive manner that there are problems.

    • by the_B0fh (208483)

      Well, Google's approach is to ask the government to force Apple to license their patents out.

      I wonder if Google knows what a patent means - exclusive use is part of the terms for granting a patent, IIRC.

    • What if the iPhone really is that innovative in the smartphone arena that only Apple can provide smartphones?

      Unlikely. There is a difference between providing a similar product and slavishly copying one. I don't pretend to know the details of this case but if Samsung simply copied everything Apple did then they deserve the consequences. Apple's way is hardly the only way.

      Then they have a monopoly, and the DoJ tends to get upset with monopolies that appear to be unreasonably restraining consumer choice raising prices, or both.

      Apple lacks the market power in phones to do either and all it would take for a mass migration away from Apple would be one bad or inferior product. Android based phones collectively outsell iOS based phones and there is no indication that thi

      • by Smauler (915644)

        What has been killing Microsoft is that the world is moving to something other than the PC.

        I don't think this is the whole story. The desktop is not dying, and the PC gaming market is not dying. Revenues are higher than they ever have been.

        What I believe is happening is that innovations in the desktop market just aren't there now, to the same extent that they were 10-20 years ago. Making a game pretty is not enough, anymore, since it's relatively easy to make a game pretty now. I am not one of the apo

    • by teg (97890) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:42AM (#40919465) Homepage

      What if the iPhone really is that innovative in the smartphone arena that only Apple can provide smartphones? Then they have a monopoly, and the DoJ tends to get upset with monopolies that appear to be unreasonably restraining consumer choice raising prices, or both.

      Just ask Microsoft. They, arguably, have never recovered from the antitrust suit. Does Apple want to go down that path?

      Apple didn't invent the smartphone, and I doubt they claim to. There were plenty of smartphones before the iphone - Nokia had e.g. N95 [wikipedia.org] (and other N-series) and their Communicator [wikipedia.org], Blackberry had many [wikipedia.org] phones, Sony Ericsson had their P900 series [wikipedia.org], HTC had Windows mobile phones [gsmarena.com]. They behaved in different ways, and had many interesting styles. So obviously, there are many other ways than iPhone and iPhone OS to look and behave.

      Samsung just put an awful lot of work into looking and behaving the same. Where the legal limit for copying goes I don't know, but Samsung wasn't exactly trying a brand new design they had been working on and polishing for the last five years... it seems as if they even copied marketing materials [appleinsider.com]. And even today, there are many different ways. E.g. the Nokia Lumia 900 [techradar.com] - it is a full screen touch mobile, but has its own design and user interface. I certainly wouldn't buy one - Microsoft has already said that they are obsolete [arstechnica.com] - but they have put (different) thoughts into design and behaviour.

  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:31AM (#40918553) Homepage

    The comparison of phones/tablets available prior to the iPhone/iPad and those that came out after both were unveiled show that Samsung is definitely in the wrong as far as design styles go.

    Whether this should be something someone can patent is another argument that I'm not going to get into here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Desler (1608317)

      Whether this should be something someone can patent is another argument that I'm not going to get into here.

      How dare you gloss over this! Coming up with an uninterrupted rectangular surface with evenly-rounded corners and a bezel is some of the greatest innovation of all time.

      • by SilenceBE (1439827) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:53AM (#40918821)
        Coming up with an uninterrupted rectangular surface with evenly-rounded corners and a bezel is some of the greatest innovation of all time.

        Thank you for this because I wanted to reply to the guy above you, that the problem is that the discussion seems to be always dumbed down or ridculized by talking about the "rectangle and round corners". If I follow the court-case in more detail, it seems a lot broader then a "rectangle with round corners".

        And even then I'm not convinced that you can even patent a "rectangle with round corners", but then again I'm rather sure you are aware of that fact. I think your reaction is a classic way of not getting a discussion about the other arguments.

        I didn't even had the time to reply, the rectangle argument was there at the speed of light. And don't say it is funny because after hundreds of time, the humor is wearing of.
        • by Desler (1608317) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:02AM (#40918937)

          Except that is exactly what their design patent is asserting is their 'invention'.

          Claims
          We claim the ornamental design for an electronic device, substantially as shown and described.

          And their drawings are just scribblings of a rectangular form factor with rounded corners and a bezel.

          • Except that is exactly what their design patent is asserting is their 'invention'.

            Claims We claim the ornamental design for an electronic device, substantially as shown and described.

            And their drawings are just scribblings of a rectangular form factor with rounded corners and a bezel.

            Not "just". Design patents are actually very narrow: the design claimed is not just "rounded corners" or just "a bezel" or just "a rectangular form factor", but all of those things, in combination... and even in more depth. Every aspect of the design shown is part of the patent claim, including the specific curvature of the corners, the size of the bezel, the symmetrical placement of the screen within the border, the edge curvature, etc. Change any single one of those, and you don't infringe, by definition.

            They're not "scribblings" - you could actually take a ruler and protractor to them if necessary.

          • by Americano (920576) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @12:43PM (#40920213)

            You see all those squiggly black lines AROUND the drawings?

            Yeah, those are called "words."

            Those "words" do something we call "describing".

            So perhaps you can explain why you're only looking at the pretty pictures, when the claim you JUST cited specifically says "substantially as shown and described "?

    • by kidgenius (704962) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:46AM (#40918731)
      I wouldn't say so. Samsung presented evidence of phones that were in development before the iphone was announced that looked very similar to the iphone. They came out afterwards, but were in development beforehand.

      Also, from an icons standpoint, they said Meizu didn't infringe, but Samsung did. The meizu calendar icon looks WAY more like the iphone icon than the samsung one that Apple highlighted.

      • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:00AM (#40918921)

        I wouldn't say so. Samsung presented evidence of phones that were in development before the iphone was announced that looked very similar to the iphone.

        I'm sure Apple had the iphone under development before it was announced. Samsung being a supplier for the iPhone would have access to these designs during the development stage.

        • by kidgenius (704962) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:04AM (#40918961)
          Not necessarily. It entirely depends on what parts samsung was supplying. If it's memory chips and flash, they would have no idea that a large touchscreen would be in use. It's quite likely that the stuff samsung supplied were COTS components and Apple signed a contract for X thousand pieces at a cost of Y.
          • by falcon5768 (629591) <[Falcon5768] [at] [comcast.net]> on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:30AM (#40919307) Journal
            But if you actually knew anything about the case, you would know that they in fact provided the screen. So it was well known internally it was a touchscreen phone. Likewise the phones in development "before" thing is a myth created by Samsung to hid the real meat of the issue, those phones that were developed "before" the iPhone were designed DIFFERENTLY until the iPhone. Basically they all had entirely different designs that changed once the iPhone was previewed.
            • by BronsCon (927697)
              They may have known, they may not have known, and we may never know. Most *Apple employees* who were working on the first iPhone had no clue what they were working on, what makes you think Apple handed preliminary designs over to Samsung? I'm inclined to believe that, even if Samsung did know Apple was making a phone, they never had a clue what it was going to look like.
            • by AmiMoJo (196126)

              Black, flat front with no/few buttons, large touchscreen, rounded corners, silver bezel, grid of icons... Looks the same to me.

        • by chrb (1083577)

          Samsung being a supplier for the iPhone would have access to these designs during the development stage.

          Samsung don't build the iPhone - they only supply a few components chips (cpu, flash) and the LCD display. All of these parts can be purchased in volume, there's absolutely no reason why Apple would need to supply Samsung with pre-release iPhone designs.

          • Samsung don't build the iPhone - they only supply a few components chips (cpu, flash) and the LCD display. All of these parts can be purchased in volume, there's absolutely no reason why Apple would need to supply Samsung with pre-release iPhone designs.

            This is true. However my main intent was to point out the flaw in the parent's logic "Samsung presented evidence of phones that were in development before the iphone was announced" where he compared the date of announcement with the date that development sta

      • One more thing.

        I assume you are referring to the Samsung F700 whose development and announcement timeline is currently being debunked by several sites. The F700 wasn't publicly announced until February 7, 2007. The development timeline wasn't disclosed, but there were direct comparisons to the iPhone during the original announcement.

        Unfortunately for Samsung, the F700 only copied the look of the chassis and not the UI. The pictures shown on a Gizmodo article dated Feb 8, 2007 shows some screen shots, and

      • by tooyoung (853621)

        I wouldn't say so. Samsung presented evidence of phones that were in development before the iphone was announced that looked very similar to the iphone. They came out afterwards, but were in development beforehand.

        So, despite the fact that the linked document [scribd.com] contains 260 slides showing side-by-side comparisons of the difference between the iPhone and the Samsung GUIs, with recommendations that Samsung implement the iPhone approach, which they then did, you are going to tell us that in fact Samsung alread

    • This is a simplistic and incorrect view.

      Before the iPhone, most phones didn't have a large touchscreen, but that doesn't mean that everyone copied Apple or that others shouldn't be allowed to compete. Both Samsung and LG had an iPhone-like design before the iPhone. Patents should only be awarded for novel, non-obvious designs. The design was always obvious, which is why a large touchscreen had been used in sci-fi and mock-ups in the past. The problem is that the technology wasn't there. You needed a beefy mobile processor to power the display, and good battery life.

      In 2006, there was a convergence in cheaper displays, better mobile processors and better batteries that you can three companies who had the same design. Apple by far did the best of marketing it. The technology still wasn't cheap, which is why the LG Prada and iPhone were both $600 (subsidized). The Prada was marketed as a luxury item, where as Apple appealed to the masses (even if they all couldn't afford it yet).

      But LG won a design award in 2005 for what Apple claims they should have sole ownership of, when they didn't demo it publicly or release it until 2006. Samsung has documentation they had theirs in 2005 as well.

      The fact that the design became popular and common when the technology finally supported it doesn't mean Apple is right. Perpetuating that lie is harmful to competition.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @12:08PM (#40919841)

        This is a simplistic and incorrect view.

        Yours is also a simplistic view.

        Apple's case is not based on "We own the idea of phones with big touchscreens, Samsung made a phone with a big touchscreen, therefore Samsung infringed upon our idea, case closed."

        The claims are far more specific than just "phone with touchscreen" or "phone with rounded corners." [peanutbuttereggdirt.com]

        But, of course, a twelve-point comparison makes for a lousy sound bite, so we keep harping on ALL YOUR TOUCHSCREEN WITH ROUND CORNERS ARE BELONG TO APPLE!!!1

      • But LG won a design award in 2005 for what Apple claims they should have sole ownership of, when they didn't demo it publicly or release it until 2006.

        The Prada was a slide phone with a hard keyboard [dailymobile.net]. That's a very different design.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        I always found it a pretty poor argument to claim that Apple invented the touch screen phone by buying telephone touch screens and selling them to consumers. The screens Apple used were used by Apple in the way that the inventor intended. Apple didn't come up with an 'innovative' use for them.
    • by KingSkippus (799657) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:20AM (#40919179) Homepage Journal

      I disagree. What you're not seeing is the complete list of devices that Samsung released before and after the announcement of the iPhone. There were devices before the iPhone that looked iPhone-ish, but Apple isn't going to show you those. And there have been a lot of devices after the iPhone that don't look anything like an iPhone, but Apple isn't going to show you those either. The only thing that is certain is that Samsung has released a lot of different devices over the years, and some of them have looked iPhone-ish. Because Apple makes only one style of device, they naturally assume that Samsung must have ripped them off when, in fact, it's just not true.

      Or put another way, imagine if I started a car company and decided that I wanted all of my cars to look exactly like a 2005 Nissan Altima because I'd decided that was the height of style and function. Then later, I sued Nissan for ripping off my design. In court, I put forth "evidence", slides showing various models of Nissans--the Sentra, the 200SX, maybe even some old Altimas that used a different design, then slides showing the 2006 Nissan Altima, 2007 Nissan Altima, 2008 Nissan Altima, etc. To a layperson, it would look very much like Nissan ripped off my design, when in fact at best, we came up with the designs independently (and at worst, Nissan could compellingly argue that I ripped off their design).

      Unfortunately, Samsung won't be able to show the jury some of the evidence of this happening, as a result of Judge Koh's ruling earlier. I still hope they are able to win this case, because otherwise, whether you like or hate Apple, you can bet that there are going to be a lot more cases coming forward dealing with design patents. Every company out there is going to see "rip-offs" of their products and sue, no matter how incidental it is to the actual workings of the product.

      It's also unfortunate, because if Apple wins, it's going to also severely limit companies' ability to innovate in the future. Until very, very recently, it wasn't unusual for companies to regularly take the best ideas from other companies and people, mix them up in new ways, improve on features that were weak, and release new products to advance the industry. Apple has benefited from this themselves: they didn't invent the GUI; they got the idea from another company, improved it, and drove GUI operating system technology forward while also making it popular. They didn't invent MP3 players; they took the best of what was out there, splashed their own design and software ideas on it, and completely revived their company.

      But now, god forbid someone else uses some of their ideas--ideas that they got from other places--to try to push the technology forward even further. And if I were an Apple fan, that level of protectionism would greatly concern me. To me, it says clearly that Apple is afraid that Samsung can (and quite possibly is) out-Appling Apple when it comes to design and functionality.

      I mean, let's be brutally honest. How many people are going to go in a store wanting an iPhone, get confused, and come out with a Galaxy instead? Nobody. I can almost guarantee you that no one has ever gotten home and thought, "Hey waaaait a minute... This isn't an iPhone!" I will admit that there are some slick features that the iPhone and Galaxy phones share that I really like, but when I got my Galaxy Nexus, it wasn't because it was an iPhone rip-off. If I wanted an iPhone, I would have bought an iPhone, I had one prior to the Galaxy Nexus. I deliberately bought an Android phone because of features such as widgets on my phone's home screens, the ability to use third-party software that isn't in the Google Play store, the bigger screen and an aspect ratio that I like better, etc.

      Of course, there are rumors now [arstechnica.com] that the next generation of iPhone will have a taller screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Does Apple cons

      • by Pieroxy (222434) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:50AM (#40919593) Homepage

        As I understand it, the fact that Samsung is denied the right to present the evidence is because their legal team was so dumb fuck stupid not to present the evidence in the legal phase where evidence is supposed to be presented. Call it a technicality if you must. Nevertheless, the judge is 100% right to suppress said evidence on the grounds it wasn't presented on time.

        Legal proceedings are very precise. Samsung lawyers seems to be very stupid on that one.

        There will be an appeal anyways, so who cares?

        • As I understand it, the fact that Samsung is denied the right to present the evidence is because their legal team was so dumb fuck stupid not to present the evidence in the legal phase where evidence is supposed to be presented. Call it a technicality if you must. Nevertheless, the judge is 100% right to suppress said evidence on the grounds it wasn't presented on time.

          Legal proceedings are very precise. Samsung lawyers seems to be very stupid on that one.

          There will be an appeal anyways, so who cares?

          Agreed on the first part, but the appeal can only address legal issues, not factual ones. The factual record gets established at trial, so it does matter. The appeals court could always remand and call for a re-trial, but that's pretty rare.

        • by CaptBubba (696284) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @12:55PM (#40920379)

          You have a bit of a misunderstanding but the situation is complicated because it really is a result of mistakes by everyone: Samsung, Apple, and the Judge.

          Samsung did bring up their evidence near the end of discovery but they were still in the phase of the trial when such things should be admissible as long as it wasn't intentionally delayed until the end. There is practically a tradition in the legal profession of submitting exhibits and discovery at the last possible moment, and having it ruled inadmissible is one of the risks they take with that and Apple won in saying that the F700 should be inadmissible. That's fine.

          Where things go sketchy is that Apple then brought up the F700 design as an example of a Samsung iPhone copy in its opening statements. Samsung argued that by bringing up the F700 Apple opened the door for further information about the device (particuarly that it was in development before the iphone was announced) which is the way things normally work for this sort of situation. The Judge said no. However the Judge also has ruled and issued statements that everything in the trial is to be open, so Samsung pointed to the evidence when asked what the flap was about by a media contact.

          The Judge was angry about this, but the Samsung lawyer's response was basically bulletproof and hung the Judge to dry by both her own statements and overwhelming precedent. Apple's lawyers have been very loudly hoping to capitalize on the Judge's unhappiness while (hypocritically IMO) they (or Apple PR) have been feeding the press a steady stream of "Samsung did a horrible thing by speaking to the press!" quotes.

          Samsung's legal team made a mistake in not getting the F700 in earlier. Apple's legal team made a mistake in mentioning the F700, and in doing so allowed Samsung's team to immediately tee-up this case for a very strong appeal should they lose. The Judge made a mistake in her very aggressive response to Samsung's media statement and may have strengthened Samsung's appeal case by seeming to not be impartial. The only party seeming to be doing a perfect job is the Jury, which has been following the instructions to avoid all media on the case and thus likely doesn't have a clue about all of this bickering.

      • by Mabhatter (126906)

        Except it's not VAGUE. Everyone brings up previous phones, but they had vastly different UI from iPhone. One iPhone came out then Samsung is copying icons, behaviors, etc. even Google substantially changed Android to "act" like iPhone in many of the small things.

        Fundamentally, your engineers can't take notes on somebody else's product and those same ones do implementation. They picked similar colors for icons (the previous phones has vastly different ones) they even copied the style of the BOX. Samsung tota

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          Come now. The iPhone interface isn't exactly new. The chicklet icon goes way back into the 80s.
      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        "I mean, let's be brutally honest. How many people are going to go in a store wanting an iPhone, get confused, and come out with a Galaxy instead?"

        I don't know about iPhone, but there was an incident where it supposedly happened with iPad.

        Never mind the fact that iPad packaging doesn't have the word "Tab" or "Tablet" anywhere, doesn't have the word "Samsung" anywhere, doesn't have the word "Galaxy" anywhere, and similarly, nowhere on the Tab 10.1 packaging does "Pad" appear, not does anything related to App

        • Never mind the fact that iPad packaging doesn't have the word "Tab" or "Tablet" anywhere, doesn't have the word "Samsung" anywhere, doesn't have the word "Galaxy" anywhere, and similarly, nowhere on the Tab 10.1 packaging does "Pad" appear, not does anything related to Apple appear...

          And how exactly would a purchaser who had not seen an Apple iPod box before know that?

          In fact all they would have to go on was thing thing in front of them in the display case, which looked just like an iPad.

    • by oztiks (921504)

      Okay Apple wanna nitpick, lets nitpick.... going from the bottom of TFA.

      SMS Icon
      Apple = Comic strip SMS word cloud
      Samsung = Wait that's the email icon ... hmmmm
      Similarity = Green, Different shades.

      Clock
      Apple = well okay, its a fuckin clock
      Samsung = a fuckin clock again
      Similarity = CLOCK!

      Browser
      Apple = Safari icon
      Samsung = World icon
      Similarity = Blue, a little bit of prior art ... IE anybody?

      IPod
      Apple = IPod outline
      Samsung = Wait, that's the calculator icon.
      Similarity = Orange.

      I'd also note the px rounded e

  • Of course (Score:5, Interesting)

    by war4peace (1628283) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:32AM (#40918579)

    It's only normal to look at someone else's product and say "hey, that's a good idea, let's implement that too!". Question is, were there PATENTS that covered this and that and was there a patent infringement in such cases? Moving a "Loading..." text from top right to middle of the screen doesn't, for example, look like "patent infringement", and if it IS a patent covering that, well then my personal opinion is that patents have really gone too far.

    • My understanding is that this was entered into evidence to show a pattern and Samsung's state of mind. As in, moving a button isn't infringement, but if they were already being so blatant, it's easier to believe they also ripped off what is patented.

    • Re:Of course (Score:4, Interesting)

      by 68kmac (471061) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:41AM (#40918689) Homepage

      It's only normal to look at someone else's product and say "hey, that's a good idea, let's implement that too!".

      Agreed. But the other question in this case is: Where do you draw the line? If you copy 100 details from your competitor, you are effectively plagiarizing their product.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      The patents are part of the trial, but if you too closely copy the entire look-and-feel of a product, there's a separate possible claim of infringement of "trade dress" [wikipedia.org], which is more like trademark law than patent law. Apple's also alleging that here.

      On the other hand, if you look at how generic products tend to refer to brand names, in other areas trade-dress restrictions don't seem to put too many bars in the way. Walmart gets away with selling a Dr. Pepper clone named Dr. Thunder, for example, whose pac

      • Walmart gets away with selling a Dr. Pepper clone named Dr. Thunder, for example, whose packaging is clearly reminiscent of Dr. Pepper's. So I don't see why a "generic iPhone" can't come as close as "generic Dr. Pepper" does on the trade-dress claim.

        Walmart gets away with it because Walmart can hurt the makers of Dr Pepper. Walmart could drop their entire product line with little effect to the bottom line of Walmart since it is a tiny fraction of their business. Losing Walmart as a customer would hurt the makers of Dr Pepper much worse since Walmart accounts for a rather significant portion of their business. Sure Dr. Pepper's maker could sue Walmart and might even win but it would be a Pyrrhic victory.

        Apple on the other hand cannot hurt Samsung in

    • Re:Of course (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:42AM (#40918705) Homepage

      Remember, this is a design patent case.

      It's not just rounded rectangles and a black bezel. It's rounded rectangles, a black bezel, this AND that AND other things.

      Note the the "AND" - it all has to add up to be significantly infringing. It doesn't have the same requirements as a utility [about.com] patent. Moving an icon would not likely be unique enough to get you a utility patent, but it could well be PART of a design patent.

      • Re:Of course (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Speare (84249) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:28AM (#40919281) Homepage Journal

        The way to crush a design patent is to show that there is a functional reason you chose that design.

        "We moved the message from the top to the bottom so that it would be closer to where the user's finger would be hovering after the previous interaction. Here is expert testimony that says such alignment is more effective." BAM It's not just cosmetic.

        "We chose rounded corners with a flush bezel instead of the earlier chunky corners because they will catch less when they are being removed from satchels, purses, and backpack pockets. Here are focus group comments related to that decision." BAM It's not just cosmetic.

        A design patent is solely for non-functional design choices. Number of petals on a flower. Color coordination. And so on.

      • Re:Of course (Score:5, Interesting)

        by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:38AM (#40919421) Journal
        Exactly. I have nearly every model of phone come across my desk, and the Galaxy S is the only one I've ever picked up thinking it was an iPhone. In general, I don't mind design patents as much as software patents, because design patents are easy to work around. Software patents keep me from doing things I want.

        For the end-user, this lawsuit means nothing. Samsung has already learned their lesson, and the Galaxy Nexus looks different than an iPhone. Samsung has some nice phones. Ultimately one of these two parties will pay the other one a lot of money, and the rest of the world will keep spinning as if nothing had happened.
      • by chrb (1083577)

        Remember, this is a design patent case. It's not just rounded rectangles and a black bezel. It's rounded rectangles, a black bezel, this AND that AND other things.

        Design patents also cover individual features. Why get a design patent? [designpatentschool.com]

        Protect Individual Design Features – Perhaps the best reason to get a design patent is to protect individual design features. Protection of individual design features is probably the most effective way to protect the “visual brand” of a product. For example, assume your product is the first of its type to use a particular shape (i.e., rounded, squared, hollow, arched, etc.) for a major design component or set of components. Consumers may begin to recognize this unique shape as part of your brand identity. Then assume a competitor (i) uses the same shape for the same component, but changes the shape of other components, or (ii) uses the same shape for a portion, but not all, of the same component. The competitor likely will have intruded upon your visual brand identity and created some confusion in the marketplace, but may have done so in a way that avoids design patent infringement. A solution to this problem is to use advanced design patent prosecution techniques to protect the individual design features of your product. These techniques include portion claiming, broken line claiming, indeterminate break lines, multiple embodiments, multiple patents, continuation practice, and combinations of all these techniques.

    • This is something I've seen in just about every product, both what I've bought & what I've worked on. I'm a software developer and have mostly stuck to working for non-tech companies as an in-house developer. I've not worked on things nearly as competitive as smart phones, but all the time my bosses are looking at our competitor's software & seeing how we could apply what they did to our stuff. And we also have seen blatant ripoffs of our stuff, down to what amounts to photo-shopped screen shots,
    • Patents are mis-used (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:04AM (#40918967) Journal

      The internal combustion engine is a perfect example. The internal combustion engine COULD NOT have been patented. The diesel engine was. One particular way of making an internal combustion engine. But with the patent for a diesel engine, a skilled craftsman had all he needed to make a fully functional diesel engine.

      The reason there are so many different types of engine is that they were designed to avoid having to license a patent. This worked very well. It created innovation AND if you wanted to produce an existing engine in your own factory you just paid a relatively low fee.

      But Apple wants to patent ideas. No a blue print but a concept. Not even the concept of an internal combustion engine but the concept of an engine. And the patents they submit provide nothing that a skilled craftsman can use to build a device. At most, they can give an engineer an problem to solve where the problem is "how do I actually build the product the patent theorizes".

      That is not how patents are supposed to work. The idea for an engine is after all far older then actual engines but all the engineers who made engines would have to pay for the license to use the idea of some long dead guy if Apple had its way.

      Go look through Apples patents, every single one of them. I bet less then a single percent contains the plans with which a skilled craftsman in the field can build a working product without having to design something himself.

      Imagine if Apple was in medicine, they would patent a cure for cancer. The patent has nothing in it but "It would make us a lot of money if we could cure cancer, now someone else actually invent it and pay us".

      Not how it is supposed to go. If you really did discover a cure for cancer, you deserve a patent and people would happily pay you for it. But NOT just for the idea that curing cancer would be nice.

      Sadly the amoral Americans have decided the patent office needs to turn a profit and you don't turn a profit by turning customers away. So the patent office and grants every payment and the taxpayers pay for courtsystem to try to sort it all out.

      Conclusion: Americans are a problem.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        You're making the mistake so many Slashdotters are... you're confusing utility and design patents.

    • Re:Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

      by v1 (525388) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:09AM (#40919031) Homepage Journal

      It's only normal to look at someone else's product and say "hey, that's a good idea, let's implement that too!".

      I was leaning toward Apple being a bit too overzealous on their claims until I read the Ars article. It's difficult to ignore the abrupt physical design changes that came after the iPhone release. And the similarity of the interface. The interface was so similar there was an internal suggestion at Samsung to make the icons more different because they themselves thought it looked like a ripoff. That's pretty damning just by itself. Even if they didn't set out to infringe, they've clearly recognized they did end up with a confusingly similar design. In this game, intent isn't the only thing that will get you in trouble. There's no leeway for "honest mistakes" in patent violation, especially when you realize your mistake and continue to do it anyway.

      I also had to think about the "obvious" / "optimal design" problem. There's just so many ways to efficiently design a toaster. Slot for bread, lever to pull down, dial to adjust time. If someone has a patent that covers those basics, you'd have a really hard time designing a competing product that didn't infringe. I get that. But samsung has been in the business for years before Apple, they've had plenty of time to bring various designs to market. Then Apple comes along with what we'll presume is a truckload of market research and engineering resources, and right-off-the-blocks has a design that's very different than 95% of the existing products available in the market. If at that point a competitor suddenly changes their designs on a direct collision course with yours, it's very hard to swallow that your new design wasn't at least a major influence on your recent design changes.

      And if you pull designs out of your drafting cabinet that you've been working on for years that look like the new release, but you had never patented them or brought them to market.... you snooze you lose. The point here is improving the products available in the market, and it will not reward you for sitting on good designs. Get it to market or go home.

      I think if a new player enters the market with a revolutionary design, you're not entitled to copy it just because it's turning out to be a much more optimal design. If it was "obvious" then you should have done it already. If you didn't, either you're slow, stupid, or it wasn't really that obvious then, even if now in retrospect it looks very obvious. In any event, you shouldn't be entitled to copy it just for the "optimal/obvious" reason. The one that was quick, clever and bold enough to bring the "optimal" design to market before you ought to get a reward for their effort, innovation, and providing the market with a superior product.

      Some of what Apple is arguing is iffy, and a few things are downright silly. But now that they're in court they're going to play all their cards, whether they be strong or weak. May as well. Let the court uphold the strong ones, strike down the weak ones, and hash out who gets what out of the middleground. This is pretty standard practice in any big case like this. Bring all your cards to the table and turn over as many as you can mange to. So even though some of these things seem silly, I can see why they're doing it. You'll get better odds on review of your iffy things if they've already struck down some of the silly things and gotten the cutoff for "silly" more clearly defined. So it's necessary.

    • by alen (225700)

      its a design patent

      samsung's icons are very similar with the iphone in a few cases, almost exact. if Moto, HTC and others can make skins that don't look like the iphone then samsung can as well

    • It's only normal to look at someone else's product and say "hey, that's a good idea, let's implement that too!".

      But when Microsoft does it it's sleazy and dishonist?

  • Chevy & Ford (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:39AM (#40918665)

    Ford suing Chevrolet on copying it's design for an automobile, submitting emails/notes from Chevrolet engineers who are analyzing/comparing their new car with Ford's:

    1. It has four wheels w/ rubber tires.
    2. There is a driver's station with locking mechanism, steering wheel, gear shift, brake pedal, and accelerator.
    3. There are seats for the driver and passengers.
    4. There are 2 to 4 doors for driver and passenger entrance/egress.
    5. There is some bulk storage area (trunk, etc).
    6. There are at least 2 headlights, tail lights, and turn indicators.
    .
    .
    .
    So, obviously, Chevy "stole" Ford's design!

    • by Quila (201335)

      Ford has quite a few design patents, and has successfully taken legal action against those who they thought were infringing on them.

    • Can you tell the difference between a Camaro and a Mustang?

      That's a *design* difference.

      • by Bigby (659157)

        Have someone from 1900 tell you the difference. They will be so shocked at all the similarities that the difference will be considered minute and one would be considered a copy of the other.

  • by logicassasin (318009) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:58AM (#40918899)

    I know it may be taboo to throw a competitor's device into the fray (and possibly opening up yourself to litigation from them), but seeing as how the LG Prada (LG KE850) had already won a design award months before the extremely similar looking iPhone had even been announced I would imagine that Samsung would jump at the opportunity to show prior art for some of Apple's "design patents" just to get them eliminated.

    • They'd love to, but apparently the judge likes telling Samsung what evidence they can't present. Refer to the Groklaw article [groklaw.net] linked to from /. a day or two ago.

    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:28AM (#40919279)

      Slight problem: the Prada was referenced in the '677 patent [uspto.gov]. I.e. The patent was awarded with full awareness of the LG Prada phone, meaning that the LG phone must have been different enough so as not to invalidate the claims of Apple's design patent.

      • Slight problem: the Prada was referenced in the '677 patent [uspto.gov]. I.e. The patent was awarded with full awareness of the LG Prada phone, meaning that the LG phone must have been different enough so as not to invalidate the claims of Apple's design patent.

        So that would mean that anybody could make an exact copy of the LG Prada phone, and Apple could not sue them (well of course you can sue for anything, but they couldn't possibly win). And of course LG could sue. Or you could pay LG some money for the right to make an exact copy of the LG Prada, and you would be safe.

    • by alen (225700)

      LG Prada was crap and based on crappy Brew OS. the nice thing about the iphone was that it was the first phone that was based on a real computer OS

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