”There is more than one way to skin a cat”. Technology has forgotten this phrase, but the notion that there can be different approaches to achieve a desired result (namely huge sales and profit margins) needs to be relearned. Here’s hoping a certain California courtroom will be host to the first lesson…
That’s right, I want Apple to win its eye watering $2.5bn (£1.5bn) copyright lawsuit with Samsung and I want it to win comprehensively. This is not because I am a fan of Apple, it is because I am a fan of innovation and creativity and the technology sector should be too. Minimalist, mono-coloured devices and walled garden software is not the only way and if it takes a courtroom to set a clear legal precedent that minutia cannot obscure blatant copying it will force companies to go down new routes. New, different, potentially groundbreaking, routes.
The arguments on each side are straightforward. Apple: “Samsung must play by the rules. It must invent its own stuff. Its flagrant copying and massive infringement must stop.” Samsung: “Apple’s overreaching claim for damages is a natural extension of its attempts to monopolise the marketplace.”
Of course the arguments are gross generalisations. 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!
If that scenario sounds intimidating – given Apple ‘has a way’ of doing things and seemingly most others do not – the alternative is downright terrifying. Samsung is trying to dismiss Apple’s claims based on tiny technicalities, from the angles of curves to the colour tones of icons. It is a smart move legally, but should it win the grounds to enforce copyright will be virtually non-existent. Top Gear lampooned the situation in China (above) where a lack of enforceable copyright has led to copies of just about every conceivable item and a similar fate would ensue.