Samsung "blatantly copies" iPhone, iPad: Apple sues

Steve Jobs (Norbert von der Groeben / Reuters)
By Richi Jennings. April 19, 2011.

Updated: Apple (AAPL) is suing Samsung (LON:SMSN) (SEO:005930), alleging the South Korean company's smartphones and tablets look and feel too much like Apple's iPhone and iPad. Oh boy; here we go again. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers compare and contrast.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention The future, according to Google...

Stephen Lawson is the law:

Samsung copied Apple technologies, designs and even packaging with its Google Android-based products, according to a complaint filed Friday. ... Apple is seeking a jury trial.


The allegations span a broad range of Samsung's mobile devices, including the Epic 4G, Captivate, Indulge, Nexus S and Galaxy S 4G ... [and] the Galaxy Tab. ... Apple laid out several detailed design elements ... that it said Samsung copied. ... The rectangular case with rounded corners, the metallic edge and the thick, black bands. ... Samsung designed application icons ... that closely emulated Apple's icons. ... Even the boxes for Samsung's products copied Apple.


[The] alleged copying has profited [Samsung] and ... made consumers confuse its products with Apple's, according to the complaint. ... Samsung engaged in "fraudulent and unlawful business practices" ... unfair competition ... [and] "unjust enrichment."  

  Ina Fried gets mobilized:

Samsung said it would fight Apple’s legal action. ... “Samsung’s development of core technologies and strengthening our intellectual property portfolio are keys to our continued success. ... Samsung will respond actively ... through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property.”


The smartphone industry is filled with patent actions. ... Even as Apple is filing its latest claims, the company suffered a setback in earlier cases it has pending against HTC and Nokia. ... This one is particularly interesting because Samsung is a prominent supplier for a number of Apple products.  

  Josh Lowensohn agrees:

Samsung is the supplier of components in [many] Apple devices, including part of Apple's A4 and A5 processors, which can be found in the company's iOS devices [including] the Apple TV. ... Apple has moved away from Toshiba to Samsung as the provider for solid-state storage in its MacBook Air. ... [And] Apple has been ... buying up large orders of flash memory for use in devices like the iPhone.


Even so ... during Apple's iPad 2 unveiling ... Steve Jobs knocked Samsung ... misquoting [a] Samsung vice president ... as saying that sales of the ... Galaxy Tab tablet had been "small."  

And as Adrian Kingsley-Hughes muses, "This could get very interesting":

Apple has added the Nexus S to the list ... Google’s flagship Android handset ... that runs stock Android 2.3 ... Apple is claiming that Android 2.3 is part of the problem here.  

But Mike Masnick exclaims, "Oh come on":

It looks like Apple is asserting design patents, instead of utility patents. Design patents are pretty limited and a lot more like a trademark than a traditional patent.


That said, this complaint seems pretty silly. ... Lots of smartphones mimic the basic look and feel of the iPhone. ... Apple itself copied many of the design features of the iPhone from others as well. ... Why can't Apple just focus on competing ... rather than worrying about what competitors are doing?


This lawsuit actually makes me more interested in checking out those Samsung devices ... it may actually be getting "close" to the design quality associated with Apple's devices.  

  Meanwhile, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry thinks he knows Apple's real motivation:

It's not clear that anyone has ever won a "look and feel" lawsuit. ... Nor should they. Fast-following and imitating is a big part of what makes free markets work. ... So what's the deal?

It's the same reason why Microsoft is suing makers of Android phones: to give Android a price.

  Android is free. ... This is hugely disruptive to both Microsoft and Apple's business models. ... And this disruptive approach is winning: Android is surging past iOS in marketshare. ... Samsung or someone else might settle, accepting to pay some form of license. ... Apple can [then] go around the other manufacturers asking for the same license. ... And all of a sudden, Android has a price.  

And Woody Leonhard watches another theory develop:

Apple routinely signs huge contracts with suppliers, locking in the manufacturer ... for months on end. The strategy ... locks out competitors' ability to nail down reliable sources for ... components. Rumors are swirling that Apple is playing footsie with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company ... [for] components Samsung has offered in the past. Perhaps ... the makings of the iPhone and iPad are about to change allegiances?


Of course, just about every ... [device] uses rectangular design, black (or white or chrome) border, and tiled icons. ... I'm reminded of the Simpson's episode where flying lawsuits ultimately morphed into "Everybody v Everybody."  


And Finally...

The future, according to Google
[worth sticking with it to the very end]

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's also the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of Computerworld, plus The Long View. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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