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Businesses The Courts Apple

Apple's Legal Fight With Samsung Revealed a Gold Mine of Top-Secret Information (bgr.com) 109

An anonymous reader writes with this story about how the Apple vs. Samsung battle brought to light the inner workings of Apple product development. BGR reports: "Following a contentious patent battle that raged on for nearly five years, Samsung last week finally agreed to pay Apple $548 million in damages for infringing upon a number of iPhone and iPad patents. While Samsung may still be holding out hope that it may someday recover those millions, it seems that we can finally start closing the book on the most widely publicized patent dispute in recent memory, one which saw Apple and Samsung battle it out in courtrooms across all corners of the globe.

One of the more interesting aspects of Apple's legal battle with Samsung is that it gave us an unprecedented look behind the veil of secrecy that typically shrouds all aspects of Apple's product development and day-to-day operations. Over the course of discovery, innumerable court filings, and a fascinating trial, the inner workings of Apple were brought to the forefront for the fist time in history. From photographs of iPhone prototypes to how Apple conducts market research, Apple's legal battles with Samsung provided tech enthusiasts with a treasure trove of previously top-secret information.

With Samsung now agreeing to pony up for damages, we thought it'd be a good time to take a step back, reminisce, and take a look at some of the more interesting nuggets of information the hard-fought patent dispute brought to light."
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Apple's Legal Fight With Samsung Revealed a Gold Mine of Top-Secret Information

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I want the physiological details of how the Jesus Phone incarnated parthenogenetically and triumphed over mortality.

    The rest is just CEO trashtalk which amounts to nothing.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @02:08PM (#51074871)

    >> how Apple conducts market research

    I thought Apple didn't conduct market research. http://appleinsider.com/articl... [appleinsider.com]

    • by Karlt1 ( 231423 )

      Words Mean Things:

      "In his brief time on the stand at Tuesday's Apple v. Samsung court proceedings, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said the company doesn't rely on "typical" market studies to create its products.

      "That plays no role in the creation of the products."

      If they had done market research before they created the first iPhone, people would have said that they wanted a phone with a keyboard. No one would have said that they wanted a computer without a floppy drive and

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Simple: Jobs lied.

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@g m a il.com> on Monday December 07, 2015 @02:14PM (#51074931) Journal

    Those octagon-like corners might be a good way to get around Apple's patent on rounded corners. Could've saved Samsung half a billion dollars.

    • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @03:10PM (#51075489)

      To quote myself from a few weeks ago [slashdot.org] when someone else misunderstood how design patents differ from utility patents...

      For some reason, many Slashdotters seem to be completely unaware (or perhaps willfully ignorant) of the distinction between utility patents (i.e. what we think of when we say "patents") and design patents, which are something else entirely. As a result, when they hear that "Apple got a patent on rounded corners", they rightfully think that's utterly ridiculous and an example of a broken patent system, when it's actually nothing of the sort, since design patents more closely resemble a time-limited trademark than they do a utility patent.

      The reality of the situation is that Apple is one of likely thousands of entities with design patents that include a claim for rounded corners. That's because those design patents aren't just making a claim for rounded corners. They're for rounded corners + a long list of additional claims that makes each of those products uniquely identifiable as the product they are. In the case of the iPhone 5 series, the design patent was for something along the lines of rounded corners + chamfered edges + aluminum trim + flat glass front + aluminum back + no adornment on the front + some other stuff I'm forgetting. I've seen a similar design patent filed by Samsung that covers some of their phones, and, as you'd expect, rounded corners were included in their list of claims as well. Again, each claim is considered alongside the other claims, rather than independently of the other claims, and for a competitor to be infringing, they need to be infringing against not just one of the claims, but against many or all of them. After all, rounded corners do not an iPhone make.

      All of which is to say, yes, changing something simple like that may very well have prevented Samsung from being out a half billion dollars. Or they could have ditched any one of the other number of features they had that were listed as claims in the relevant design patents that Apple was issued. Do a tapered back/sides instead of having a flat back and flat sides. Do a rounded edge around the screen instead of a chamfered one. Curve the glass instead of having it flat. Make the corners elliptical instead of circular. There are any number of ways to circumvent design patents. It's not particularly challenging.

      • Other than rounded corners, what exactly is there in the design patent that Apple asserted?
        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          Other than rounded corners, what exactly is there in the design patent that Apple asserted?

          Well, it was a rounded screen, with a grid of icons. Below that grid was a static set of icons. The upper grid of icons could be swiped to move from "page" to "page" while the lower static set stayed the same.

          That was the gist of it. And no stock Android OS had that - the "static grid of icons" only applied to the home screen, but that was fixed by having stuff like clocks and widgets there, so it wasn't a grid of ico

          • Well, it was a rounded screen, with a grid of icons. Below that grid was a static set of icons. The upper grid of icons could be swiped to move from "page" to "page" while the lower static set stayed the same.

            I don't remember there being any grid of icons shown in the design patent. I'm pretty sure there was nothing shown on what would be the screen.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Ie, do what all the other phone manufacturers did.

        Not slavishly copy the product, the packaging, the icons, etc etc etc.

        To get an idea about Samsung design, look at their TVs. We have one where we removed the base so we could hang it on the wall.
        What you saw was a small portion of the stand still attached that hung below the bottom of the screen. It looked bloody stupid, Apple would never have shipped something that poorly designed (neither did a number of other TV manufacturers either).

        Samsung has a LONG h

    • Battlestar Galactica much?

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @02:15PM (#51074945)
    For those who don't want to read all of it, here's a short list of secrets
    1. Prototypes: Some were form-factor prototypes; some were working models. Some ideas like a curved glass screen or iPad kickstand clearly did not make it into a product
    2. Early iPhone project information: Had to use existing Apple personnel only and so secret that people were not even told what they were doing when recruited or that they could talk about the project: think Fight Club
    3. Long product roadmap: Apple plans many products and features years in advance.
    4. Apple does market research: in fact a lot of research.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Long product roadmap: Apple plans many products and features years in advance.

      Only about a year in advance. That's the year it takes to see other people release a feature and then copy it.

      • The Ipad was already in full development for literally years before the first iphone debuted. IN 2003, when someone asked Steve Jobs if Apple would make another PDA like the NEWTON, he replied "To get back into the PDA business, we would have to get into the cell phone business", basically denying it. I pretty much knew that this meant Apple was going to build another Newton. The mobile ecosystem had already been in development for at least 3 years when he said that. Apple takes a VERY long view or things,
        • Apple takes a VERY long view or things, at least when Steve was around.

          The recent report that Apple would be "using OLEDs In iPhone Models From 2018" would indicate they still do.

          • Technologically speaking I am not sure why they haven't done so yet. I can only imagine there is some reason like logistics that prevent them from doing so. Or is it a technological limit like contrast ratio that OLEDs are now starting to overcome.
            • Technologically speaking I am not sure why they haven't done so yet. I can only imagine there is some reason like logistics that prevent them from doing so. Or is it a technological limit like contrast ratio that OLEDs are now starting to overcome.

              Even if todays OLEDs have actually finally overcome their flaws, they still don't yield enough to feed Apple's production numbers.

        • From what I know of the iPad, the first prototypes were Intel Atom based and got terrible battery life. But Apple realized they could shrink it further and make it a cell phone so they put all their development on that first. Also I think this was the start of Apple's anti-Flash stance. Working with the smaller form factors make Flash unbearable when it was merely a nuisance on desktop or laptop.
          • From what I know of the iPad, the first prototypes were Intel Atom based and got terrible battery life.

            Yeah. Sure. The first iPad prototypes are actually older than the first iPhone prototypes, [cultofmac.com] Yeah, I'm sure they used a CPU that came out after the iPhone. Snark aside, from TFA I just linked to:"The ARM chip looks like a variant of the Samsung S3C2410, which Ars Associate Writer Andrew Cunningham said is “a distant relative of the chip the first iPhone ended up using, just older and slower.”

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @02:24PM (#51075033)
    .... that says absolutely nothing.
    • TFA isn't much better. A bunch of "crazy iphone prototypes" that just look like phones, and details on a secretive development and exhaustive design process. Yawn.
    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      It's not even a 3 paragraph summary, It's a 3 paragraph copy-paste of the opening of the article.

  • Money? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2015 @02:26PM (#51075051)

    Forstall cryptically told them that if they opted to join, they would have to “work hard, give up nights, work weekends for years.” Not mincing words, Forstall also told prospective team members: “If you choose to accept this role, you will work harder than you ever have in your entire life.”

    You see, this is why I don't get hired for these things. I'd ask what my increase in pay is going to be. And in Cupertino, CA with those work hours and demands, I'd be looking for $500K per year - at the minimum. See, all the free California shit pizza in the World isn't good enough compensation.

    But, there's a huge line behind me of people with no money sense or lives who jumped at that chance. That's their choice. But when you wake up one day in your late thirties, alone and with diminishing career opportunities, you ask yourself how you could be so stupid to devote so much of your life to a job. And there's this jab of pain when you see some of your classmates who pursued less demanding careers that have a loving spouse and family. And then your job is off-shored.

    • Re:Money? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Karlt1 ( 231423 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @03:10PM (#51075491)

      You see, this is why I don't get hired for these things. I'd ask what my increase in pay is going to be

      On the other hand, if I put on my resume in 2008 that I had played a major role in the design of the iPhone, I think I could command much higher salaries than if I said I wrote yet another line of business software-as-a-service web app.

    • "[Apple] told...you will work harder than you ever have in your entire life"

      this is why I don't get hired for these things. I'd ask what my increase in pay is going to be...

      If I could expect "glory", big stock, and/or resume credit, I may have considered such when younger.

      I've actually been promised similar things, BUT the owners flaked in the end or the product flopped. I roughly cloned Ebay in 4 weeks once under such pretenses. (I was cross-eyed at the end.)

      9 times out of 10 when you are asked to "sell y

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @02:33PM (#51075109)
    For those who don't know, Samsung marketed this digital picture frame in 2006 [engadget.com], long before the iPad was even a rumor, and even pre-dating the iPhone. Notice how the front looks identical to the later Samsung tablets, just with bigger bezels and no button. And it contains all of the distinctive elements of the original iPad that Apple sued over except the home button - flat, rounded corners, black bezels with white/silver edges. As if Apple simply ripped off Samsung's design, then turned around and sued Samsung for ripping them off.

    The argument against that version of history has always been that the back of the picture frame [akihabaranews.com] looks nothing like the back of the iPad. Well, now we have this image of the back of an early iPad prototype [bgr.com], lending support to the theory that Apple used Samsung's picture frame as a starting point for their iPad design.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 )

      Ah, but here's where patents screw up everything: Once you have your patent rubber stamped by the idiots at the patent office whose sole job is to ensure the check cleared, it's a valid patent.

      The patent system is so horribly that once the design patent was awarded, things like facts and reality became irrelevant -- because design patents are just as broken as patents on inventions; first guy to get it accepted wins.

      What people miss here is that this is a situation created ENTIRELY by the way the patent sy

    • by rsborg ( 111459 )

      For those who don't know, Samsung marketed this digital picture frame in 2006

      That's great - I had no idea digital picture frames were secretly tablets in disguise! Who doesn't remember digital picture frames from 2003-2004 sold at Shaper Image? Guess Sharper Image (or whoever actually manufactured the products) should sue Apple too!

    • For those who don't know, Samsung marketed this digital picture frame in 2006 [engadget.com], long before the iPad was even a rumor, and even pre-dating the iPhone.

      But not before what would be the iPad was sold as a Tablet Mac rumor (or rather Patent) in 2005 [engadget.com]. Note that the Samsung picture frame is not a copy of that patent, because it actually doesn't look all that much like it [roughlydrafted.com].

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @03:27PM (#51075677)
    Like most garage sales the stuff was mostly someone else's crap that you wouldn't want for yourself. Apple's reaction to Samsung's âoeThe next big thing is already hereâ ad campaign was interesting though.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Top Secret is a classification given to sensitive government information. It is not related to Trade Secrets in the least. There was no Top Secret information revealed in the court filings. If there were people would be getting indicted for mishandling classified information.

  • I'm surprised Apple's lawyers allowed their secret corporate practices to be publically revealed.

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