You got to hand it to Samsung, on the same day over 100 of the world’s leading designers sign court papers supporting Apple in the never-ending patent case between the two companies, new patent filings come to light that will do nothing to reduce tension between the two firms.
What the papers say
“Samsung Caught Using Apple Watch Design Figures in a Recent Patent Filing,” say Patently Apple, who first spotted the story.
“Samsung Uses Apple Watch Illustrations in Smartwatch Patent Application,” notes MacObserver.
“Has Samsung been caught with Apple Watch drawings in its patents?” IBT
“Samsung under fire after it files for a smartwatch patent using images of an APPLE Watch” Daily Mail
Patently Apple spotted it first:
“In a patent application that surfaced today at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office titled "Wearable Device," they [Samsung] discuss their new "exchangeable" strap mechanisms. What struck me was that a great number of their form factor patent figures were actually Apple Watch designs,” Patently Apple writes.
‘Shameful and sleazy’
The questionable patent was filed in January 29, 2016 and published August 4. What gives Samsung’s Apple flattery away is that in some of the patent images you’ll clearly see the watch design features an Apple Watch Digital Crown, what appear to be Apple proprietary band designs and depictions of the four-square watch sensor layout on the underside of the device. Samsung’s devices don’t look like this, but Apple’s do.
“Once again, Samsung is caught trying to copy an Apple idea and even using Apple patent design figures and not clarifying that they're from Apple,” said Patently Apple. “Although it's shameful and sleazy, it's certainly not surprising.”
We know competition between the two firms is intense. Only the other day Samsung used the launch of its latest high-end smartphone to poke fun at Apple for some reason.This was just the latest in a long, long line of attack marketing ploys the company has used in its fight for market position. There’s good business in being the “Anti-Apple”.
The big issue
There’s a big issue behind all this. Over 100 designers, including Dieter Rams, Sir Norman Foster, Sir Terence Conran, Calvin Klein, Paul Smith, Alexander Wang, and Tony Chambers, the editor-in-chief of Wallpaper magazine all signed a friends of court brief to support Apple’s right to demand compensation from Samsung for historical patent abuse.
“We have based our professional lives on the assumption that designs are patentable and worth enforcing when infringed,” the designers said.
Apple is fighting for the right to design unique products, but with this latest patent design mishap it is hard not to come to the conclusion that Samsung is fighting for the right to imitate them.
Samsung rushed into the smartwatch category in 2013, rushing development in order to beat Apple’s then widely anticipated Apple Watch introduction, which took place in 2015. It’s fair to say the Samsung had a lot to learn.
Apple dominates its category today. IDC reports it holds 72 percent of the market in contrast to Samsung’s 7 percent. A recent Wristly report claimed 94 percent of Apple Watch customers are satisfied with a second recent claim suggesting the next model will sell over 6 million units within weeks.
This patent filing matter suggests many of these Apple Watch sales will be to Samsung’s design team. Industry observers like myself are wondering if this will at last be Samsung's “Trump moment” when it loses all its remaining credibility?
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