Apple, Samsung and pots and kettles


Apple’s lawyers had their day in the US last week in winning the Apple vs Samsung lawsuit over infringement of Apple’s software and design patents regarding the iPhone that saw Samsung ordered to pay Apple a billion dollars in damages.

Some say the outcome of this legal dispute has huge implications for Samsung and other Android-smartphone makers in the future. The Economist reckons the impact on Samsung’s bottom line should be modest “because a ban will affect older devices, not the firm’s snazzy new Galaxy phones.”

But the case still has big implications for the tech industry, which is facing a tsunami of patent-related lawsuits. It shows how patents covering the look and feel of devices are increasingly being “weaponised” by their holders. It highlights the propensity of juries to award huge damages in intellectual-property disputes. And it will give added ammunition to those who feel that the current system of granting and policing tech patents in America needs to be overhauled.

[…] The jury in San Jose [California] concluded that Samsung had violated several of Apple’s utility patents covering things such as bounce-back scrolling, which makes such things as on-screen icons and web pages rebound if swiped too far, and tap-to-zoom functionality, which makes it easy to zero in on, say, an image or a map. It also said the South Korean company had copied the overall look of the iPhone, including the rounded corners of icons, thus breaching several of Apple’s design patents. To add insult to injury, the jurors tossed out the South Korean firm’s claims that Apple had ripped off some of its own innovations.

It does seem that Apple itself is no stranger to copying other people’s ideas – a view apparently articulated by founder Steve Jobs:

Picasso had a saying: ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.

With the lawsuit, its concurrent publicity out into the mainstream, and views like those of Jobs, it’s surely no surprise if you politely yawn at any protagonist’s claim that the other stole its intellectual property.

It gives the tagline “Galaxy S3: the most amazing iPhone yet” you see in the spoof ad above,  circulating on Facebook this week, some credibility and elevates it above being simply amusing.

Yep, big and expensive pots and kettles.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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