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Apple Sues Samsung Over Galaxy Phones and Tablets 465

mystikkman writes "In the latest patent suit to hit the smartphone industry, Apple is suing Samsung, alleging the Galaxy line of phones and tablets infringe on a number of Apple's patents. 'Samsung's Galaxy Tab computer tablet also slavishly copies a combination of several elements of the Apple Product Configuration Trade Dress,' Apple says in its suit, noting that Samsung's tablet, like Apple's, uses a similar rectangular design with rounded corners, similar black border and array of icons. Apple previously sued HTC over Android. If Samsung is found to be infringing on the software, all the Android OEMs could be vulnerable."
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Apple Sues Samsung Over Galaxy Phones and Tablets

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  • Again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wsxyz ( 543068 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:20PM (#35860516)
    Didn't Windows copy the Lisa & Mac "trade dress"? How did that turn out Apple?
    • Re:Again? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpryGuy ( 206254 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:23PM (#35860544)

      Apple claimed they did, but I never thought so. There are significant differences in the UIs, and always have been. And the concept of 'over-lapping windows' is so generic it really can't be claimed as a patent, imho.

      To claim that a tablet can't be rectangular with rounded corners and a border? Dear lord, that's just ridiculous.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        is so generic it really can't be claimed as a patent

        You must be new here. And by 'here' I mean this world.
        Companies would sue their own children for copyright infringement if they were able to do so. Oh and will will get much worse. Much, much worse. In a few years there will be only two companies left. A company that sues everybody and everything and own all of it and the law firm that represents them.

        And then they set up a joint venture ...

        And there is nobody to stop them. Well, at east 2 generation was a

      • I can't wait for my patent approval for a flat rectangular surface that is elevated at such a level one can sit down and use it for office work. I'm calling it the iscrbere.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        To claim that a tablet can't be rectangular with rounded corners and a border? Dear lord, that's just ridiculous.

        IF ableToCompete==False
        THEN sue=nearestCompetitor

        This little nugget's been part of Apple's MO since the 80's.

    • Apple kept their suit going until the war was long over, but Apple only dropped the case after Microsoft gave them $150 million [] and MS gave assurances that they would continue to develop Office on the Mac (both companies had their own reasons for this arrangement, granted).

    • Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky - try to take over the world!

      Ya, Apple and Windows did go head to head, over the GUI. Thats IMHO why the Windows GUI is so bad. Windows did everything backwards to keep from getting sued. But now you are use to it, now normal interfaces seem strange.

      On another Topic some one was wondering where the standard interfaces where. Well now you see it. until the man that can out litigate the rest will define what pad/pod/phone you will be using and how it
      • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:56PM (#35861016)
        No kidding. I'm still trying to figure out how MS missed the obviously intuitive UI element of using the trash can for eject.
        • Every time I see a Mac user drag a removable device to trash, I picture the device being formatted.

    • This sort of suit (aside from the patents) has already been tried years ago by Apple. It is destined to fail, miserably. It will cost them a lot of money. As a company Apple is beginning to show it sucketh.

  • by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:21PM (#35860524)

    "uses a similar rectangular design with rounded corners, similar black border"

    What is wrong with these people?

    • My desk is rectangular with rounded corners, my laptop is rectangular with rounded corners, my external monitor is rectangular with rounded corners. All of these things are older than iPhones. I bet I can find other examples.
      • But, it's not within the context of a mobile computing device whose shape resembles a thin rectangle.
      • Instead of reading the summary, which provokes the thought you deride (rounded corners?) . Have a look at the photos.

        The photos show the samsung is a slavish copy. they also show that the features it copies so slavishly are exactly the ones captured in the apple design illustrations they patented.

        I agree that just saying rounded corners and black borders makes this seem idiotic. Compare the photos and you will see this phone is a lot closer to the iphone in outward appearance than the HTC or Nexus phones

        • design illustrations they patented.

          and theres the first fucking problem with the entire IT industry. Patents shouldn't exist. Design patents, software patents.... they're all bs, and they're all used, in the main, for big companies to crush little companies - and its been this way since the days of yore... copyright can get fucked too...

          to be honest, I don't have the energy any more to articulate this issue - the system is so blatantly broken, and has been that way for so long, that th

    • by teg ( 97890 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:52PM (#35860944) Homepage
      How did tablets look before the iPad? While iPad was the first tablet most people/businesses cared about - the genius of the iPad is that was not a laptop in a different form factor - there were tablets before. Did they look similar? Or is it just after the iPad that the design looks obvious?
      • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
        after the first full face touch phones the design was obvious, all of them are touch phones but bigger
      • by MrHanky ( 141717 )

        It looks like a small screen. My old Samsung monitor was rectangular with rounded corners. In fact, it looked like a 24" version of the Galaxy Tab.

    • Insane yes. Prior art: Any touchscreen desktop monitor fits that description (which have been around a long time).
    • "uses a similar rectangular design with rounded corners, similar black border"

      We want triangles!

    • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @06:15PM (#35861200)

      Yeah, I'm sure that's the only similarity [], as opposed to a choice quote pulled by the summary from an article which pulled it from a court document which it failed to link. Clearly, most of the phones these days were independently conceived, which is why Apple entered a market that was already filled with innovative designs when the iPhone debuted in 2007, of which it is merely one among many now.

      Oh, wait.

      Now that I've paid my dues as an Apple fanboy, let me step back for a sec and be more reasonable, because as much as I like Apple, I love comprehensively well designed products better, regardless of where they come from or whose logo is on them. Here's what I really think about it all:
      1) There should be protections for inventions and new ideas, allowing the originators to profit from them for a time.
      2) Apple came up with something new and disruptive when the iPhone debuted, and again when the iPad debuted.
      3) While Apple does deserve to make a profit, they don't deserve a free ride. There still needs to be competition when you have technologies that so thoroughly disrupt an industry, otherwise you run the risk of them dominating and stagnating, which is bad for everyone.
      4) Allowing blatant rip offs defeats the purpose of #1 and isn't conducive to encouraging innovation. It discourages it by sending the wrong message.

      So, basically...I dunno. The summary doesn't link to any primary sources, such as the court documents where your quote was pulled from, so I can't make any judgment calls about the merit of the case as a whole, nor should anyone else. If their case rests on arguments that flimsy however, then it's just another frivolous lawsuit in a long list of frivolous lawsuits from the companies involved in all of this fracas. If they have a stronger case than that, then I might be willing to support it, but I find it doubtful.

      Still though, you can't help but feel a twinge when you see where phones were in 2006 and 2007, see where they are now, see when the change happened and what form it took, and know that the group responsible for the change is supposed to take it well or else get lambasted by people the world over as bullying. I know I'd be angry if I came up with a design that impacted an industry as much as the iPhone did, only to have every product in the industry look like what I had come up with just a year or two later. And since people are so prone to forget, you'll hear them saying, "Well, duh. That's obvious. How else would it be?" when talking about innovation after it happens, completely forgetting that a mere 3-4 years prior there was no product that resembled what every product looks like today.

      • by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) * on Monday April 18, 2011 @08:08PM (#35862288)

        Still though, you can't help but feel a twinge when you see where phones were in 2006 and 2007, see where they are now, see when the change happened and what form it took, and know that the group responsible for the change is supposed to take it well or else get lambasted by people the world over as bullying.

        And yet when the iPhone was announced, there were rumours abound that LG would sue Apple due to the similarities of the iPhone with the LG Prada []. (Ooh, look! Rectangular with rounded corners!)

        I don't think that Apple did steal LG's design, it is just that both the products were natural evolutions of the technology of the time. The iPhone was not the completely radical, unprecendented game-changer that a lot of people like to suggest.

        • The iPhone was not the completely radical, unprecendented game-changer that a lot of people like to suggest.

          Really? Than what do YOU attribute to the fact for the fact that the smart phone world is drastically different than it was pre-iPhone and that it changed pretty much on the day the iPhone was available (arguably, the change started when the TV commercials did)

          No one particular component of the hardware my be a game changer, but its really retarded to suggest that it didn't flip the industry on its head when it came out.

          You're missing the forest for the trees.

    • by yeshuawatso ( 1774190 ) * on Monday April 18, 2011 @06:45PM (#35861544) Journal

      I'll bite. This is a trademark infringemnet case that leverages a "famous" mark that has been attained by teaching the consumer about Apple phone and tablet products look and feel against a junior mark that may not be famous. Even though the trademark isn't registered, that doesn't make it invalid (although it should technically limit it to the state in which Apple primarily engages in commerce, but there are ways of getting around that, legally) and may be enough to take a trademark dilution by blurring claim (where two different marks are so similar as to likely cause customer confusion but not similar enough to be infringement or a counterfeit).

      The questions a jury will have to answer are:

      1.) What is the degree of similarity between the mark or trade name and the famous mark?
      2.) What is the degree of inherent or acquired distinctiveness of the famous mark?
      3.) To what extent is the owner of the famous mark engaging in substantially exclusive use of the mark?
      4.) What is the degree of recognition of the famous mark?
      5.) Is the user of the mark or trade name intended to create an association with the famous mark?
      6.) Is there any actual association between the mark or trade name and the famous mark?

      The first question is a given. The Galaxy lines of phones were targeted directly at iPhone users. Samsung went as far as to give the phone to frustrated iPhone users []. I own the Vibrant version, which looks identical to the UK version, and the OS was designed to be like a mixture of iOS and Android. You can even uninstall apps using a "minus" button very similarly to iOS's "X" to delete apps.

      Number two is harder to prove since the design Apple is employing has been around for a while. Not that's it's not impossible to prove, just harder. This has already been mentioned by other /. post above and below this reply.

      Number three is easy as Apple has been consistent with this design since its inception.

      Number four is a tough one too. I'll give an example. Today, while registering my child for kindergarten school for the fall, I took my iPad to let the child play with to keep quite while filling out paperwork. About half of the 4th grade school population went passed us on their way to lunch, almost all talking about this device. Some children knew what the device was, some thought they knew what the device was, and some had no idea what it was (a few said it was a TV). While not directly calling 4th graders the equivalent of the adult American public that will sit in a jurors seat, their will likely be similarities in terms of identifying Apple's products. We tech enthusiast know the difference, but does your grandmother? What about your automobile mechanic? This is where jury selection becomes important. Samsung would want tech enthusiast who can clearly see the difference between the products, while Apple is going to want everyday people who will simply call the mark that came to market first as the "famous" mark and anything else is a knockoff.

      Number five is a tough call too. At one angle, Samsung is engaging iOS users that their Android smartphone has a similar experience to iOS to warrant a switch, while the other end you could just as easily argue that Blackberry and Android users are Samsung's ultimate target, especially since Android options are so vast. Samsung could easily argue that in order to differentiate themselves from other Android devices, they used a design unique to the Android smartphone market.

      Number six is where we will see Apple claim that Samsung used the association of being the manufacture of the iPhone 4's chips to their Galaxy lines having equivalent chips. This claim is a long shot, but still possible if Apple can get a layman's head around what the hell a chip is in the first place.

      Since Apple is the one bringing suit, Samsung could easily attack the rounded corn

  • Please, anyone at all? How on earth is this reasonable?

    • by chemosh6969 ( 632048 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:24PM (#35860554)
      There was a comment in the cloud article that Apple doesn't do this sort of thing. I found it amusing reading that comment and then this article in the same day.
    • Why does it have to be reasonable? What universe were you born into?
    • What Apple is complaining about in detailed legalese is that the Samsung Galaxy i9000 looks too much like the iPhone. In some specifics, Samsung appears to have copied the same icons that Apple uses. Do a google image search [] on the Samsung Galaxy i9000. At first glance, you would think it is an iPhone. Unlike the summary suggests, Apple cannot sue other Android manufacturers for the same thing as they did not seemingly copy the iPhone look. Motorola, HTC, LG, etc all appear to differentiate themselves

    • Pretty simple. Yeah. Look at it. Seriously, look at it.

      ASOP, Sense, and Blur don't have the grid/dock layout that Samsung uses.

      The G1, the Droid 1/2, and N1 hardware all look significantly different from the iPhone: like keyboards, trackballs, sharper edges on some, rounder edges on others.

      The Droid X is thinner plus a bump to support that allows them to house a better camera than the iPod Touch.

      Seriously, if it wern't for the lack of gloss on the icons, and the subtle extra buttons on the front, the Samsun

    • I was facepalming over this until I saw some side by sides linked from Daring Fireball.

      Sauce 1 []

      Sauce 2. []

      I didn't give a shit until I saw the dock ripoff on the Samsung devices. that's just fuggin' blatant.

  • Inexcusable! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renaissance 2K ( 773059 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:21PM (#35860532)
    An iPad is the only device on the planet allowed to have a rectangular shape and rounded corners!
  • Fuck apple. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:24PM (#35860556) Homepage Journal
    Yeah. fuck them. its as elaborately as can be put. "Hey, you cannot use our moving-your-hand-to-right-to-move-a-page-right" 'innovation'. because, well, millions of fanbois have pumped up our control freakness by obliging with everything we did to them, and we think everyone will do the same.
  • by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:26PM (#35860568) Homepage

    It's got rounded corners, it's black, it's rectangular, and it's a tablet.

    Beat that, Apple.

  • by neosar82 ( 792049 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:28PM (#35860610)
    When my boss bought a galaxy tab I was curious to check it out. I spent about 5 minutes playing with it, handed it back to him, and said, "They're gonna wind up in court over this thing". I'm indifferent when it comes to android vs. ios. I have both a Droid X and an iPhone 4, and I use both every day. I find things about both platforms that are unique and that I prefer to the other. However, when you look at what Samsung did with their UI... It's pretty pathetic to be honest. They literally copied entire app UIs wholesale (even icons). There is no question that you can argue that all mail apps look similar, but this was almost pixel for pixel. They went so far as to make their own UI widgets (instead of the stock android ones) that looked JUST like the Apple ones. I'm not a huge fan of software patents, but there's a difference between similarities in programs that do the same function and literally just ripping off EXACTLY what another company does.
    • by The13thSin ( 1092867 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:36PM (#35860736)

      Yeah, 'cos a grid of app icons was Apple's innovation... Just like a rounded rectangular shaped phone...

      Besides, you can't patent or copyright an idea, just your implementation. Apple is just as guilty (if not more so) of copying other people's ideas as any one else.

    • Yeah, but that would be strictly a copyright violation, wouldn't it? Surely it's not possible to claim that the appearance of an icon is protected by patent.
      • by DdJ ( 10790 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @06:02PM (#35861082) Homepage Journal

        There's multiple kinds of patents. In this specific case, I do not believe we're actually talking about "software patents", but about "design patents", which are the same sorts of things that protect the design of fonts or the design of Coca Cola's bottle. A design patent is kinda this thing that falls between copyright and patent in some respects -- it's all about "the ornamental design of a functional item". []

        Or in other words: it's certainly the case that the appearance of an icon can be protected by patent, if we're talking about design patents.

    • I have a Galaxy tab (the 7") a Galaxy S I-9000, an iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4.
      While they do have similarities (3G/3GS,SGS all are rectangular + rounded corners for example, but thats very vague design and most phones are like that by necessity) the UI is quite different - no artwork is reused and while some things are remotely similar, thats FAR from pixel for pixel reproduction.
      In fact, Apple does not even have a similar product to the 7" tab...
      Sure, both use rows of icons.. and that's mostly what's similar.


  • The idea and design of the flip phone is much more unique and sophisticated then a "rectangular design with rounded corners, similar black border and array of icons". Did someone try to patent the general design of the flip phone?

    I doubt it since every seems to make a flip phone and I've never heard of anyone being sued over it. Maybe greater sanity prevailed back then.

  • by darien.train ( 1752510 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:31PM (#35860658) Journal
    I just can't put my finger on it. []
  • I've seen fake iPhones that look less like iPhones than that Galazy i9000 in the picture. I was ready to jump on the Slashdot bandwagon and complain about patents and trade dress. But that looks like an iPhone knock off. And seeing that there are competing phones that don't look like an iPhone, I think Apple has a case here.

  • I wonder if these suits could be filed with a checkbox marked "Routine Patent Defense" so it doesn't waste everyone's time. I'm guessing it won't make any difference but a company should defend its patents. Or maybe that's trademarks. I'll just go back to mopping floors here...

  • All non-apple handheld devices must now follow specific design requirements if they compete on any level with an apple product.

    1 - They shall not be rectangular in shape. Circular, Conic, and Toroidal are occasionally acceptable, but pentagonal is preferred.

    2 - They shall not have rounded corners. All corners and edges should be as discomfortingly sharp as possible, preferably to the point of drawing blood.

    3 - They shall not be black, or white, in fact, we claim all primary colors. They can use fecal brown
  • from 1968 -.they want their Monolith with rounded corners back
  • by Stuntmonkey ( 557875 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:47PM (#35860882)

    This is interesting, given that Apple buys a lot of its flash and other important components from Samsung, by one estimate over $7B annually. Neither can afford to not do business with the other. Maybe this is the opening move in a components negotiation?

    As a lawsuit this seems ineffective as a way of preventing competition. By the time this plods its way through the court, Samsung will be four product generations down the road. Maybe this is all just PR, a way for Apple to accuse Samsung of being "non-innovative" and spread general FUD about Android. But I don't think history has shown that to be a viable strategy. Moreover I have to say that as owner of both the iPhone and Galaxy S, the similarities between them are pretty superficial.

  • So Apple is claiming that they are stealing the rounded corners and rectangular shape? Should Hasbro sue Apple for "slavishly" stealing the Etch-A-Sketch? But the REAL point here is that NOBODY is going to mistake a Samsung Galaxy Tab for an iPad - they are completely different sizes (and personally, I find the 7 inch size FAR more useful than the 10 inch one)

    Yeah, I know, that's what she said... grow up!
  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:49PM (#35860902)

    Samsung's Galaxy Tab computer tablet also slavishly copies a combination of several elements of the Apple Product Configuration Trade Dress

    So I've been seeing this all over the web today, and this is the first article I've seen that lets us know that it's trade dress or a "design patent" that is (allegedly) being infringed, rather than a software patent.

    If Samsung is found to be infringing on the software, all the Android OEMs could be vulnerable.

    Oh well, it's /. so the exaggeration at the end is to be expected. But no, if Apple is found to be infringing, the only other Android OEMs to be threatened would be the ones who tried to copy the iPhone's look as closely as possible, in other words, none as far as I know.

  • Apple says in its suit, noting that Samsung's tablet, like Apple's, uses a similar rectangular design with rounded corners

    Samsung: "Yes, but our tablet's rounded corners contain hidden razor sharp blades, which can be extended, with an app, and then you can toss it across Starbucks like a frisbee like a flying guillotine."

    Copying the GUI is a valid point, but making a tablet, that looks like a tablet . . . ? When I take the train to work, everyone seems to have a laptop or netbook . . . that all pretty seem to look alike.

  • by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:57PM (#35861024)

    Wouldn't you rather have apple try to outdo Samsung by creating some awesome new features in their next phone/tablet? Instead of tryign to push Samsung backwards?

    Technology is kinda like a race. You can either win by having the better technology/features/whatever, or you can win by pushing everyone else back.

    I would rather everyone focuses their efforts on pushing technology forward instead. The consumers are the ones who end up winning in the end.

  • by Fjandr ( 66656 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @06:05PM (#35861114) Homepage Journal

    I was watching the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie today, and noticed that Lex Luthor's monitors appear strikingly similar to current Apple products. I think someone should sue them for appropriating the trade dress of whoever produced those 1970s props.

  • Really - you know, the scourge of 'closing in the customers, locking them, controlling them, deciding what they can do' ? its Apple's doing.

    10 years ago it wasnt like that. Openness was the order of the day. proliferation of ibm pc had had created an environment that had the theme 'you can do whatever you want with your device'. this also prevailed in software. despite there was so much need for standardization and access controls for pc based software, all software was made thinking that people would d
  • They're suing over making a rectangle with rounded corners?

    Are they that fucking stupid? What's next, patenting the circle?

  • Apple can be evil (Score:2, Informative)

    by mmj638 ( 905944 )

    Apple has no "don't be evil" motto and it shows

  • Apple really needs to get over themselves.
  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @06:57PM (#35861646) Homepage Journal

    I wonder whether Apple us suing Samsung because they want royalty free access to a patent that Samsung owns?

    Big companies like this often like to sue to get a better deal on something a competitor holds. They probably really dont care otherwise that Samsung is vaguely copying the trade dress - anyhow I am surprised that trade dress is even a patentable concept.

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @09:25PM (#35863126)

      I think Apple is getting worried. Their massive rise to success has been as a consumer electronics company. While they were doing fine as a computer company after the iMac and so on, they were still a small fry. MS could have bought them no problem with plenty of cash to spare. Their massive rise has all been on their consumer electronics line.

      I mean look at the iPod. It wasn't the first MP3 player, not by a long shot. What it was is the first MP3 player that made MP3 players a fashion accessory. You had to have one to be cool, right down to the white earbuds that proclaimed your ownership (high end headphone companies started making white earbuds after that, had never been a demand for them before).

      Well while that market certainly hasn't gone away, it has leveled off a whole lot. The new growth has been iOS. Smartphones and tablets, "computer like" toys if you like. Again, not the first smartphone, just one that really struck a chord with consumers. Blackberry was (and is) very enterprise focused and does very well there, but the iPhone was a toy that consumers wanted.

      However newer Android phones are becoming a big threat. They are high power, have all the latest gadgets, and they are getting slick. HTC's Sense UI is a real nice one, and Apple sued them last year over it. Not to say default Android is bad, but it polishes things, makes them very pretty and friendly.

      I think Apple is getting worried. While nobody has been very successful in competing with the iPod, Android seems to be making a real run on the iPhone, and now with tablets maybe on the iPad. It's growth has been astounding.

      So I think Apple is trying to stomp on the more successful companies, the ones who are trying to make it real user friendly. My experience is with Sense since I got a Thunderbolt from work not long ago and I'm impressed. Compared to the Android phones I saw just a couple of years ago it is slick, pretty, and easy to use. You could give it to a non-technical user and I doubt they'd have any trouble.

      I don't think this is a "We want a patent," thing, I think it is a "Shit these guys are going to screw over our new market, we have to try and stop it!" thing.

  • by joh ( 27088 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @07:07PM (#35861768)

    While I totally agree that Samsung tried very, very hard to have the Galaxy phone and its UI look as much as an iPhone as possible, it's totally hopeless to sue them.

    I mean, they're black rectangles with rounded corners and colorful icons in a grid on the screen. Still, others managed to give their phone a design that doesn't cry "iPhone!" to everyone, asking or not. What Samsung did was totally uncreative and somewhat shameless, but not illegal.

    Anyway: This [] is in no way subtle or random chance.

  • by Hamsterdan ( 815291 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @07:17PM (#35861882)

    I mean. most of them are rectangular boxes with 2 or 3 drivers. Heck, with the grille on, they all look the same.

    This is completely ridiculous....

    How the heck do they expect Samsung to build a tablet? round and angled at 90 degrees at the middle?

  • trollish but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kangsterizer ( 1698322 ) on Monday April 18, 2011 @07:34PM (#35861984)

    ... that's why I don't buy Apple. Vote with your wallet they say. So yeah, there.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein