Samsung Mobile's VP of design responds to allegations of copying Apple

A Samsung phone compared to an iPhone

In a recent interview Samsung Mobile's VP of design, Lee Minhyouk, had a few things to say about Apple's claim that Samsung is "slavishly" copying their designs.

"I've made thousands of sketches and hundreds of prototype products (for the Galaxy). Does that mean I was putting on a mock show for so long, pretending to be designing? ... As a designer, there's an issue of dignity. (The Galaxy) is original from the beginning, and I'm the one who made it. It's a totally different product with a different design language and different technology infused."

Of course, there are some undeniable similarities between Apple and Samsung products, but since the initial lawsuit, there has definitely been a bit divergence, particularly when it comes to Samsung's wider variety of form factors. There are still a lot of lawsuits flying back and forth between the two giants, and as much personal affront as this Samsung designer might take to the allegations, I doubt things will turn out completely in his favor.

Samsung may have started off being very Apple-like in their design and marketing, but lately devices like the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Note show a different design language and philosophy. (They're hardly copyi

What do you guys think? Is Samsung a shameless copycat and this designer is just putting on a show, or is Apple's claim to originality overinflated in the face of a long history of mobile technology and interfaces before it? Is there anything about the latest Samsung smartphones that are particularly similar to the iPhone 4S? In my time with the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Note, nothing struck me as particularly iPhone-y, but maybe you guys see something I don't.

Source: Reuters

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Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

Samsung Mobile's VP of design responds to allegations of copying Apple


Is it really a big deal! The galaxy will never be an iPhone. I think that both phones have different markets. And eventhough am a big iPhone fan am glad that Samsung made an alternative as apple made it so difficult to buy an iphone during it first years and only now we could easily buy one and this was coursed by the competition. And we all know that many features in our iPhones are not original.

Samsung is without a doubt copying Apple. Google is without a doubt copying Apple. Anything having to do with Android is copying Apple. And the reason for them doing this, is because they know that if they don't steal Apple's designs, no one will buy their products.

“I'll know it when I see it” -Steve Jobs
“We have been ‘ShameLESS’ about stealing great ideas” -Steve Jobs

"Samsung is without a doubt copying Apple."
Seriously? I see very little similarities between Samsung and iphone's. What - because they are both slabs and both black - Samsung copied them? LOL!
And while we are making ridiculous claims - Apple copied Microsofts tablet from 2002 so I guess even the great "original" Apple steals as well.

Ipad (or Safari pad) was being created by Apple in the late 90's buddy. You may want to re-check your sources. Just saying...

The name "iPhone" belong to InfoGear, which passed on to Linksys (now Cisco). You may want to re-check your sources. Just saying… ... "On September 3, 1993, Infogear filed for the U.S. trademark "I PHONE"[200] and on March 20, 1996 applied for the trademark "IPhone".[201] "I Phone" was registered in March 1998,[200] and "IPhone" was registered in 1999."

You have no point, except that Apple have money. The fact that Apple bought the name of iPhone doesn't have anything to do with copying. In fact, getting the name by paying the owners of the name is the most prestigious thing to do, since iDevices were already part of the Apple's plan.

Samsung has diverged noticeably from Apple, but I think even the most ardent Samsung fan would have to concede that Samsung was inspired by Apple at the outset.
Similarly, Apple has borrowed ideas from other sources, but their claim to originality still cannot be overstated. Their fusion of existing ideas, as well as their own new ones, have had a huge impact on the industry.
However, trade dress issues aside, Apple's claim to PATENTED OWNERSHIP of many of these ideas is ludicrous, and I would dearly love to see the USPTO take a good good, hard look on what sort of ideas should be patentable. Then again, this is an entity that granted a patent to a 7 year old for swinging sideways on a swingset and took months to reexamine and reject it, so I am not getting my hopes up.

I want to see how many of Samsung's designs resemble what they are producing now, prior to iPhone. And obviously not only them, everyone else is riding on the coat tails. How many times have you heard, "is that an iPhone ?, no but it is just like it "

Right, android invented the app store, etc. why are there 357 android phones out there and everyone is jealous when Apple comes out with 1 a year ?
Right, there is no resemblance in functionality regardless of a rectangular form factor.
Maybe I should have said , how many times have you heard, "hey is that a new android X2s14 note Razr ?"

if you think the iphone or even samsung phones are simply a rectangle then you are gravely mistaken and do not have full knowledge of the design world (especially product design). whatever phone you do have look closely at every curve, bevel, bezel, material division, etc is tediously planned, tested then planned again. objects that appear simple are often very complex and even the hardest types of forms to actually perfect (which perfection is a continual design process).
if these phone are just rectangles, why isn't apple/samsung paying you to make bricks? look closely at the designed world we live in and stop making so many assumptions about areas of expertise you clearly don't understand.

Re: Mr. Lee saying "It’s a totally different product with a different design language and different technology infused."
He's trying to conflate the external design with the internal hardware design and Android OS. Pure sophistry.
Any summer intern could have designed the exterior of the phone pictured. And that's what Apple is suing Samsung over. It's called "trade dress," and it's the look-and-feel of the product.

Apple is unbelievable, every two years or sooner for some, people spend all their money on the same device with a new title. yes minor improvements here and there between versions BUT! all of which should and could have been added from the get-go. Now that Samsung and others are in the running as the "best" smartphone, they are becoming the whiny little child they are,"omg you have a button that happens to be in the same location as ours...wait yours cost 200 dollars less and have better battery life, let me get my lawyer" enough is enough, Apple doesn't have a bad phone but its not the best, why pay for the same phone every two years with a minor changes, not me you can keep your I_____, Apple make something unique and one of a kind again, and well talk until then keep selling the same devices over and over again with new names. (The NEW Ipad, The NEW Iphone) What the hell!... really!

Hmmm, he made thousands of sketches and hundreds of prototypes...all while looking at the 3 GS. For those of us who agree that Samsungs products look eerily similar to Apple's mobile devices, it would have been better if he had stayed out of the public eye and never made any statements. Now he looks like a fool, and as a designer, I'm embarrassed for him. Noticed how the more he spoke in defense of his design ethic, the more embarrassing it got? I'm thinking, you're making an a$$ of yourself in front of a large group of readers. It's like as he was talking, the images of the products side-by-side, and showing their similarities, were flashing across the sceen to counter all his claims. This would make a great SNL skit.

if you confuse a samsung for an apple phone yoy need your head examined....if you truly believe apple should be able to hold the patent etc to a rectangle and a minimalist design then your a fanboy.

Why cause I have common sense and see several differences....I mean I didn't.move on from my ip4 to the s2 thinking I was getting another iPhone.
Which is apples argument that it confuses people lol apple really believe that people are that dumb.

Why is it that android owners troll apple website. Don't you have enough to keep you busy with the ROM installs and such?? I guess you just can't help but to come back here and try and justify your purchase.

You're kidding right ?
If you can't see that Samsung and everyone else copied the iPhone, then you are just a fool.

I am a fan of good products, you think Apple has no merit in their accusations ?
Yeah they are just a bunch of bafoons making crazy accusations. That company doesn't know what the heck they are doing.

Of course Samsung copied someone (Apple). That's what Samsung do across all their product categories. They think of themselves as a 'small' Sony after all.

Apple didn't make the first full screen candy bar phone though they improved on some earlier designs. this is all ridiculous in this case form follows function, there are only so many ways to do it.

form does follow function in traditional design. however that age old design mantra is starting to shift with progression of all our modern technology. function is becoming more and more of a graphic problem than a physical product problem.
therefore in terms of the 'product' design (for these products) form is becoming irrelevant in the sense of "form follows function"... the only function the form needs to follow now is ergonomic!
"form follows function" however is becoming more and more relavent to the graphic designs of the OS, apps, etc...

apple has always put a vast amount of energy developing both the physical and virtual aspects of a product. also in my previous comment i am not talking about the physical product following the function of manufacturing (ie putting the components of the phone together) that is a problem solving process of industrialization that product designs do deal with. however again look at apples design process! they are often discovering new industrial processes in order to actually manufacture the products they design and envision!
companies like sony, samsung, etc typically do not make breakthroughs in manufacturing processes, they usually design products to fit into current manufacturing capabilities.
out of all the charts i see related to tech, apple etc. i would like to see one that compares the contributions to the industrial manufacturing processes made by these large consumer electronic corporations.

Samsung copied Motorola back in the day I read an article on it and now they are doing it with Apple not a bad strategy until they jut sued.

Don't get me wrong, I have an iPhone 3GS and love it, but I think Apple is being ridiculous. I can clearly see differences between the devices in question. They are not the same phones at all. So many manufacturers use the slab style for their phones, anyways. I;m not a "fanboy" for either side, by the way.

I make accusations that Apple copied Windows Mobile and Palm. In fact, I make the accusation that Apple stole ideas from both these companies and branding them as their own. Only Apple fanboys and girls and people whom did not use the first mobile devices think different.

If this guy was totally confident that his design was truly his, then why does he have to come out and make a statement so late in the game?

About 2 years ago I started looking for new phone and possibly a tablet. 16 months ago - for cost, memory and size reasons I chose the Archos70-250Gb. By that time I had developed serious concerns about the restriction built into iOS and being forced to work through iTunes. Last summer I bought the Samsung Galaxy S2 (EU version) and have never regretted it.
Two years ago I felt positive about Apple design, but I disliked iTunes and being forced to use it in their products. Since then my feelings about Apple as a company have declined a lot. Today Samsung produce better and more innovative products; and with Android you have a lot of choice going forward - Apple is always a choice of one.
Apple still have good market share and superb margins, but they are becoming less popular as a company. Their designs no longer feel innovative. Two years ago I would have bought their products, now I actively chose not to. I am sure that others feel the same. Are Apple willing to learn from this? I doubt it.

Since most say ,apple steals and they do, are you than admitting Samsung steals ? Also two wrongs don't make it right. Stop defecting.

All one has to do is look at smartphone design from before and after the iPhone. Before the iPhone, smartphones had tons of keys in bizarre configurations and wacky screen sizes. After the iPhone, everyone started cranking out iPhone clones with a giant touch screen and very few buttons.
Look at Samsung smartphone design before and after the iPhone. Could it be more obvious?

You really make it appear really easy with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be actually one thing that I believe I'd by no means understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely large for me. I'm looking forward in your next publish, I will attempt to get the dangle of it!