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Innovation Demands Apple Beat Samsung In Court

Sound farfetched? In some ways we are already there. Aside from Apple's claims against its iPhone and iPad the entire Ultrabook phenomenon is built around copying the recipe behind the MacBook Air. Intel is the driving force behind it and the approach makes sense given the dearth of creativity shown by its partners up to now, but should they succeed there will be even less incentive for creativity afterwards. Replica MacBook's will be seen everywhere… unless Apple wins its Samsung court case, resets its sights and forces a rethink.


And rethinking is great. Perhaps the most radical rethinking has been going on at rejuvenated Microsoft. Succeed or fail, no-one can accuse Microsoft of copying Apple with Windows Phone or Windows 8 nor can its inventive Surface tablet be seen as ripping off the iPad. Look further back and there is Kinect and Xbox Live. Again, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

In essence it all comes down to brand identity. The car industry is a good example. Just because Ferrari puts out a sensational new model does not mean BMW, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Audi and Rolls Royce all rush out to mimic it. The idea would be preposterous, an insult to their heritage and customer base. Each has the confidence to believe it can counter Ferrari with something better doing it the BMW-way, the Mercedes-way, the Aston Martin-way, the Audi-way, the Rolls Royce-way and so on.

Besides not everyone wants a Ferrari, there are BMW people, Mercedes people, Aston Martin people - you get the idea. For the time they have now been in existence, more of our biggest technology companies should have established such brand identities and customer allegiances as well.

Happily it isn't all doom and gloom. As we have said Apple has its identity, so does Google and Microsoft is forging a new one. Similarly there are the likes of Loewe, Bose, Sonos and *cough* RIM. It can be done, companies can think harder, can spend more time in creative meetings and less time studying Apple keynotes. But do you trust them to do so?

If Apple beats Samsung you won't have to. Stricter laws will mean companies are forced to pursue their own paths and 'can' will be transformed into 'must'. This is a good thing, it resets the rules for everyone - including any future copyright infringements by Apple, something of which Xerox would approve. Let's hope the jury can see the big picture, the 'tech' in technicality must stop…

Tim Sutton

August 12, 2012, 8:16 pm


I'm sorry, but arguing that Apple winning this court case is good for anyone but Apple is ridiculous.

Minimalism and sleek lines in a portable form do not belong to anyone. And even if they did belong to someone, it wouldn't be Apple.


How you can possibly think that ANY company being allowed to claim ownership of the rectangle is good for anyone apart from that company is beyond me.

Good design and creativity are stifled by insane patent laws, not encouraged. http://www.androidpolice.co...

No-one should be allowed to patent such basic ideas as a rectangular phone with no buttons.


August 12, 2012, 10:03 pm

+1 Tim. I could not agree more with you on this one.


August 12, 2012, 10:22 pm

It looks like Apple copied the icon grid of my touch screen sony P910 that I purchased in 2003 (4 years before the first iPhone). Sony should sue Apple for $2.5bn for copying them.

Amit Aggarwal

August 13, 2012, 1:26 am

I have to admit, i'm astonished and dismayed to see such a piece coming from a tech site. Sorry but Apple is not the only tech company innovating - the iPhone may have kickstarted it all, but the iPhone 4S (of which I am a happy owner, as well as an iPad2 and Nexus 7) would not have it's current iOS feature set were it not for competition from Android and it's associated phone manufacturers. Apple is plenty capable of lifting features from others - pull down notifications being one such example. Apple winning this lawsuit would be extremely harmful for the industry and consumers, and would in fact serve only to stifle innovation and competition.


August 13, 2012, 2:08 am

Or Jony should...


August 13, 2012, 2:27 am

Hmm, I know where you're coming from Gordon, but I agree with Tim's stance. Especially this line: "Good design and creativity are stifled by insane patent laws, not encouraged."

People & companies need to be justly rewarded for true innovation & creativity after all, money is their sole motivation, but not at the expense of crushing everyone else's innovation & creativity. Patent laws need to be re-written & the 'justly rewarded' bit could do with a review too.


August 13, 2012, 4:35 am

I find it very interesting that in the same time from a popular US site, in a totally unrelated way, this almost identical article (the main point) came up



August 13, 2012, 4:46 am

My mother taught me that if I can't say anything nice then I shouldn't say anything at all.

Therefore no comment...


August 13, 2012, 6:37 am

Sorry Tim, you've missed the point here (or I haven't been clear enough in expressing it). Rectangles are not on the agenda - this is hyperbole from Samsung - phones were rectangular before the iPhone. The case is actually focused on aspects of the interface and there is no doubt extreme levels of copying have gone on here and to condone it will destroy copyright for everyone.

Creativity will die as companies simply mimic whatever features become popular on another device/platform. Knowing you CANNOT do this will force companies to come up with alternatives much as Microsoft has done with Windows Phone and this is highly preferable to endless clones.


August 13, 2012, 6:39 am

Absolutely. If Sony can prove a case.

I don't want copying full stop, I don't care who the participants are. We need differentiation in devices not a world of clones which can get off on technicalities such as curvature and colour shade.


August 13, 2012, 6:44 am

I believe from your response you have only read the headline so I would ask you to go back and do this. For starters, an extract:

"Apple has done its fair share of flagrant copying over the years. Most famously it claims to have invented the mouse and graphical user interface, but both ideas were actually thought up by Xerox - Apple popularised them. Stones and glasshouses. That said I take bigger issue with the attitude expressed by Samsung that the damages claim is an "extension of its attempts to monopolise the marketplace" - as if Apple's way will win if we aren't allowed to copy a bit. It is a perspective that rots the tech industry. Sod Apple's way, find your own and win with that!"

And to the contrary, were stronger copyright laws in place it would stop Apple from copying the notification centre from Android - or at least having to pay for it. This is NOT about protecting Apple it is about protecting the creativity of ALL companies and a precedent needs to be set so that companies can feel they can be inventive without rivals getting away with clones based on technicalities.

Companies which come up with new ideas - whoever they may be - should feel confident rivals must either a) pay licensing to use this idea, or b) be creative come up with an alternative.

How you should be "astonished and dismayed" by this perspective baffles me. It is common sense.


August 13, 2012, 6:47 am

Clearly, like Tim, you have also not understood the main point of my article. This seems common given the comments here so perhaps the fault lays with me.

I have written clarifications to both Tim and Amit below - see if these make things clearer for you.

A world where companies can get around copyright law on the tiniest technicality will lead to everyone copying everyone and innovation will grind to a halt. Every company needs to know when they come up with something genuinely new that a) it is protected, and b) rivals' only choice will be to either license it or be creative and come up with something better.

I want to live in a tech world where creativity inspires creativity, not cloning. The ONLY way this will happen is with stronger copyright laws.


August 13, 2012, 1:52 pm

Gordon, I'm afraid that this a gross oversimplification of a highly complex issue that relates to IP law as a whole and not just copyright. I do not think it is appropriate to accuse commentators of lacking common sense for encouraging a discussion about the issue.

Firstly, Samsung's argument may not be that valid in this case but it is at least relevant in terms of message. That's not to say Apples IP hasn't been infringed in this instance, I don't know enough of the minutiae to judge that. It does not matter what exactly Apple is seeking to protect in this case, the statement highlights the litigious nature of the company and the industry as a whole. However, in Apple's case, there is at least some evidence that elements in other cases such as 'slide to unlock' were already in the prior art.

Secondly, considering copyright or individual IP separately doesn't really give the whole picture. Setting aside discussions about the issues with software patents, there is currently a difficult situation whereby once a patent becomes too valuable it cannot be leveraged effectively. Essential wireless patents must be licensed in on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms. If a company invests time, money and resources and holds a patent that enables a whole technology e.g. 3G, they can not use this patent as a clear competitive advantage. This creates a potentially perverse situation where a design patent or copyright is more valuable (certainly in a commercial sense) than an essential technological patent. However, the alternative is that only one company has access to this technology, which clearly stifles innovation.

I just wanted to make the point that this issue is bigger than you highlight in this article, and merits a bit more wide-ranging discussion.

Daniel Gerson

August 13, 2012, 3:55 pm

Sorry Gordon,
but you're engaged in a demand side economic fallacy.
I'll let the master, Milton Friedman, educate you here.

(The conversation is about taxes, but it is likewise applicable to patents).

The problem is not simply the amount of solutions, but the PRICE of the solutions to the public (if you're trying to sum the total good). Patents, in this respect, induce a moral hazard to jack up the price of all patentable solutions to the public. The price of all these solutions would fall if we allowed producers to compete away the gains of each individual solution. Further there would be more derivative solutions available (which are barred by patents), not just substitute solutions... if we encouraged a free market here.

Basically, you're arguing against supply side economics.

Daniel Gerson

August 13, 2012, 8:06 pm

"I don't want copying full stop, I don't care who the participants are. We need differentiation in devices not a world of clones which can get off on technicalities such as curvature and colour shade."

I think this statement of yours is very telling and very purist & narrow. You're assuming that the only innovation between devices is SEEN innovation. There is a lot of innovation that competitors do that is unseen. If Samsung takes Apples tech, produces the same item, but at lower cost as a result of more efficient code or manufacturing processes... then these are none-the-less improvements EVEN THOUGH to the user there is no apparent difference. If Samsung takes the same product, but innovates through tie-ins or pricing subsidy innovation, then these are also improvements for customers despite no functional improvement. None of these forces will be at work if Apple have monopoly protection on ideas.

This reasoning may or may not apply to this particular Samsung vs Apple case... but it's a rebuttal to the reasoning behind the motivation for your article.


August 13, 2012, 8:14 pm

Oh dear. Since this article is about protecting creativity for ALL companies. I am sick of the copying on all sides.


August 13, 2012, 8:15 pm

Yes exactly my point - the case needs to crack down on the mess that is the copyright law system. It is the perfect opportunity to do so to protect all companies.


August 14, 2012, 12:46 am

The point is the trail represents a huge opportunity to reform copyright law for the better. That is undeniably true. Is it my opinion that the outcome would be better if more rights were given to those legally proven to own something rather than less. Certainly however nonsense such as copyrighting rectangles should not be part of that.


August 14, 2012, 12:47 am

If someone can be proven to have invented something and has the legal copyright for that and that something is not deemed to have become a basic human right then yes, the licensing cost is up to them. If companies cannot afford to license it then they can use their millions to come up with an alternative. I'd rather see that than devices all licensed to look alike.


August 14, 2012, 12:48 am

Of course I don't have the time to go into every detail of a multi-billion dollar trial that would be ludicrous. As I have said in replying to comments before:

"The point is the trail represents a huge opportunity to reform copyright law for the better. That is undeniably true. Is it my opinion that the outcome would be better if more rights were given to those legally proven to own something rather than less. Certainly however nonsense such as copyrighting rectangles should not be part of that."


August 14, 2012, 1:20 am

Nice find Tim. Apple is trying to flex its hypocritical muscles... but why wouldn't it, big corporates , which in the states have the same legal right as if they were a living breathing person, are, if taken as this person, psychotic .... the fact that apple is a mega corp, vying as the biggest in the world does rather suggest that there is more than enough room for Samsung too despite the alleged copying. It's pathetic, for years their was a healthy PC market around the world once IBM got back in its box.... http://www.imdb.com/title/t... well worth a watch...


August 14, 2012, 5:11 am

Gordon you're argument seems to be that the Apple-Samsung case will clarify copyright/IP law, and in a way that's true, but the issue is whether it will be for good or bad. I think the point is that there was nothing fundamentally inventive about what Apple's done ... it was only a good implementation of an existing idea, and yet Apple is trying to claim that idea as if it was true innovation, rather than just good design. This is what's so fundamentally wrong, and why it's important that Apple should lose the case. Good design is great, but it shouldn't qualify for or need patent protection. You talk about the car industry, but the fact is that Lamborghini has flagrantly aped Ferrari with many of its designs. You wouldn't confuse the two, any more than a real human would confuse an Apple with a Samsung, but they are working in the same area and that's why both represent design variations on a theme. Apple is trying to confuse innovation with design (and the reason why software patents are not allowed in Europe is because they too confuse innovation with implementation). I can think of no way in which a Samsung victory would inhibit creativity or innovation. An Apple victory on the other hand would force only cosmetic differentiation and that's not creativity.


August 14, 2012, 11:09 am

There is more than one way to skin a cat...but i dont think that in the case of mobile devices as we stand in 2012 that can be achieved by making different shaped phones!!

I guess we might find ourselves with this basic form factor for some years to come now. A sleek hand-sized device with touch screen.

Remember the PC form factor of the 1990's? Essentially they were all just beige boxes - what differentiated them was the careful configuration and balancing of components and also the supporting services provided. We have to accept that its pretty much the same now for smartphones.

I suppose another unique issue to consider in this case is that with minimalistic design you inherantly expose yourself to the risk of that design becoming something which could be described as generic.

I think Apple should loose the case.


August 14, 2012, 1:27 pm

While I agree with some of the points Gordon has raised, TouchWiz did
try have some similarity with IOS but not enough to be an blatant copy.

The home screen came configured with a big weather widget. The Icons also were and are still static also it retained the Android notification bar.

Technology builds upon itself and happens in small steps most of the time, so companies have no choice but to use what other's have done before. Only sometimes can there be big paradigm shifts and Apple is astute enough to popularise these concepts.

Samsung does a lot of the expensive ground-breaking research behind these technologies which Apple happily uses, to then turn around and sue them is wrong.

Daniel Gerson

August 14, 2012, 3:37 pm

Thanx Gordon for your considered responses. Ultimately what this debate is about is whether intellectual property is legitimate or not in the 21st century.

People who think not will disagree with you. Proponents will agree with you.

I personally don't think it's ever been legitimate. In areas, such as mathematics, innovation has occurred despite a lack of intellectual property protection. It's funny that society thinks that design is more "worthy" of protection as the product of human capital than calculus. But the lack of innovation didn't mean that calculus wasn't co-invented independently by both Newton & Leibnitz (a fear that patent proponents have, that without them there would be no R&D). I contend that without patents, there would be greater production in the world. There was no international propertyright agreements before the late 1800s... but that only helped fuel the industrial revolution. The Jacquard loom thrived because it was enforced as public property by the French Government.

Even if you disagree with the above, we might at least be able to agree that software & ergonomics patents are more contentious than the more traditional variety.

And if one is going to step fully into this debate, we have to sum properly the damage to small and medium enterprises by patent trolls. Basically, you summarize only one side of the coin in coming to your conclusions.

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