Steal

Samsung to show off Galaxy Player iPod touch competitor at CES

Apple is suing Samsung, in part for copying the look and feel of iPhone and iPad for their Galaxy S line of phones and tablets. The suit involves both patents and trademarks. This has led to some questions and some backlash.

Should Apple not compete rather than litigate? Patents exist to offer protection; trademarks must be defended or they're lost. Apple is a public company that has to represent the interests of its shareholders. While Apple has previously brought patent litigation against both HTC and Motorola, this is the first time they've sued for trademark infringement, the first time they've alleged that their look and feel has been stolen.

Didn't Apple copy the look and feel of Samsung's F700? No, of course not. While the F700 was announced at CeBit 2006, it wasn't shown until after the iPhone debuted at Macworld 2007. Not unless you believe devices like the 2005 Palm LifeDrive didn't predate both, or that other devices used rows and columns of icons, and handheld formats going back further still. Apple's suit isn't about a rounded rectangle with a grid of apps, it's about a multitude of design decisions that they believe, taken together, cross the line into infringement.

What about Steve Jobs saying great artists steal? Jobs didn't say that, he quoted Picasso who said that. Neither were referring to copying, however. They were referring to ideas. "Make it simple" is an idea worth stealing. "Make it look like X" is not. Inspiration is one thing, the tiny details of execution another. Neither Apple nor Picasso were known to work in tracing paper.

Looking at the Galaxy S line and the TouchWiz UI skin, it's hard to argue Samsung didn't deliberately try to make their devices look like Apple's. "Knock offs" are a common strategy in many markets and across many product types. They work. Sometimes people even prefer them to the originals. However, they sometimes run afoul of the law.

Is the Samsung less a Captivate or Fascinate and more a Replicate or Duplicate? That's what the courts will have to decide.

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Steal

52 Comments

I agree that they have a case with Samsung (a lot stronger than they have with HTC, at least from what I can read they're claiming, but I'm not a patent lawyer)
The thing I'm curious about is how it will play out. Apple threw a LOT of phones into this lawsuit, covering both stock devices (Transform/Nexus S) and Galaxy S phones (which are the most iphone like devices) and putting them in the same broad lawsuit. On one hand, a win will be that much more potent. On the other, doesn't it increase the risk for a technicality?
I do think that Apple's spending a little too much time litigating these days (and being pretty picky about who they go after.. leaving webOS alone for example) but with Touchwiz, I can at least understand why.

Apple will probably drop the law suits against the other phones once they see where they stand. When you take someone to court you normally sue everyone and drop the ones you don't have a chance at winning.. its the same principle as when you hear the stories of people slipping at stores (sue the employee responsible, employer and chain) gotta go where the money is ;)

Samsung did not use stock Android and did in fact make the Galaxy S line very, VERY similar to the iPhone.

I can see this more valid then the whole "App Store" issue they are trying to push. Samsung IMO is a poor manufacturer of mobile devices and all they do is copy things others produce.
Apple might sue me for using the term App Store above.

It's been said multiple times before... those don't have patents/trademarks. APPLE'S DO.
And omg maybe this spammer who is taking everyone's names and posting crap will get TiPB to make you actually sign into your account to comment...

. While Apple has previously brought patent litigation against both HTC and Motorola, this is the first time they’ve sued for trademark infringement, the first time they’ve alleged that their look and feel has been stolen.

It most certainly is not.
http://goo.gl/HWC8
"Look and feel" was central to Apple's case and all appeals. In fact, the Ninth Circuit specifically ruled the exact opposite of what you assert here -- that a multitude of ideas, taken together, do not cross the line into infringement if the individual components are not themselves all infringing. (The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, so this is not irrevocable precedent, but it is the most relevant US law to date.)

I didn't read the complaint but that seems to be a copyright case regarding the gui where as this appears to be patent claims regarding the physical design and trademark claims. Based on that little bit the first case you site against microsoft would have no relevance to any patent claim or trademark claim.

While their are some IP claims here, in the MS case, the crux of Apple's claims were that MS appropriated their IP.  In the Samsung case, Apple's focus is not look and feel IP infringement, but that Samsung violated their "trade dress" -  that they intentionally designed their product in such a way to mislead consumers.  While both cases were generally about design L & F, this distinction in strategy has a much better chance of winning this time around.
Nilay Patel's summary is not that long ( http://goo.gl/eRlcT )

my point is that it's not a copyright case so the Microsoft case isn't applicable nor is the argument made in it. The article you post even makes that point saying "Oh, and don’t conflate trade dress with Apple’s doomed copyright-based “look and feel” lawsuit against Microsoft in the 90s — it’s totally different."
These are clearly patent claims and trademark claims. The point is they are based on completely different statutes in the USC, thus different law as opposed to a 1976 Copyright act claims in the Microsoft case. They could have won in the Microsoft or lost it wouldn't have mattered in this case.

doesn't mean i think their claims have merit by the way. i can't tell without reading the complaint and i have other things to do.

So you have plenty of time to post comments, but not enough time to actually research the article you are commenting about. Classic internet user

I don't need to read the complaint to make a comment. I don't need to read the compaint if the article is accurate to know that Copyright claims hold no precedence in trademark case or a patent case. I don't need to read the entire complaint to tell you that. You only need common sense. That's first year law school. In fact you would get that principle before you even start law school. It's like trying to find someone criminally liable for assault based on a tort assault statute. It doesn't work like that.
but just for you i looked at it. And yeah i'm still right. the copyright claims in the microsoft case have no bearing on this case as they are based on fundamentally different law, patent and trademark as opposed to copyright law. One is a software user interface copyright claim and this is a design patent and trade dress issue.

What rot.
Picaso is not responsible for what Jobs said.
Ideas can't be stolen; only copied.
All Apple products are derivative of something else.

Copying is the sincerest form of flattery. I'm no attorney, but Apple should go after those that rip off their intellectual property and exploit it for profit. It is up to the courts to decide if it's warranted, and Apple knows they might lose--but it still sends a message to others who want to rip off Apple's work--real R&D dollars are spent on developing these devices.
At the end of the day though, nobody talks about these devices truly standing on their own, as a platform that is innovative. They are only standing on the 2007 iPhone's shoulders. Everyone knows it--and countless references in reviewing cell phones tend to mention the iPhone more than anything else, as the benchmark.

It's just corporate posturing. Just another lawsuit. Samsung will continue to make phones to go after the competition from HTC, Apple, Moto, and everyone else. Apple will continue to make new iPhones. The outcome won't change much about future devices.

Samsung is one of Apple's key supplier for displays and several other components. I hope that Apple isn't shooting itself in the foot with this lawsuit. This is all about money, and they spent $5.7 billion USD of its cash for Samsung's bling last year alone!
Hmmmm..

i looked at teardowns of ipad2 and bothe iphone versions and there isn't much samsung stuff in their except some ram. didn't check one of the ipad 2 versions though.

I'll keep all this in mind on my next slate touchscreen purchase, to make sure it goes to anyone but Apple. Oddly enough my Samsung Fascinate really looks nothing like an iPhone in any regard, in white even. Its much too large, thin, and flat.

With this in mind.. Honda, Lexus and a buttload of other auto manufacturers should probably sue Kia/Hyundai for making cars similar to their own models to compete in the same class with them... like the Civic and the Forte or the LS460 and the Genesis.

Self edit: My picture shows that the F700 was SHOWN at CEBIT, when Rene indicates that it wasn't actually seen until after MacWorld.. However, trademarking and copyright don't just extend to the first time a device is SEEN, it is when the design is IMPLEMENTED, which in this case is a little more debatable than the one paragraph Rene gave it.

Andy,
I think you meant to link to this article...
http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/04/19/androidfansaccuseappleofcopyingsamsung_first.html
The graphic states the Samsung F700 was first shown at CEBIT in 2006, and was released in February 2007, while noting that the iPhone was first shown at Macworld in January 2007 and didn't go on sale until the end of June 2007.
However, the graphic is in error, as Samsung only mentioned plans for the new phone in 2006. It wasn't actually shown until February 2007 at the 3GSM World Congress, held a month after the iPhone's debut. It did not go on sale at that time.
What Samsung actually did
When Apple unveiled the original iPhone in January 2007, Samsung was actually selling a variety of smartphones that looked more like Nokia devices, with a four direction rocker navigation button, six or more buttons for handing calling features, and in most cases, a traditional set of physical number dialing buttons.
The F700 was rushed out to show after the iPhone's debut, and was regarded as an "answer to the iPhone" by reports of the day, one of which observed that it "looks awfully familiar."
However, the F700 also carried a number of notable features that Apple didn't offer until later, including support for 7.2Mbps HSDPA mobile networks (not available until the iPhone 3GS) and a 5 megapixel camera (unmatched until iPhone 4). If anything, it indicates that Apple faced serious technical hurdles in entering the mobile business in competition with much more experienced mobile manufacturers.
What Apple brought to the mobile business wasn't a copy of existing technology, but breakthroughs in original design aimed at usability, with features such as a truly useful mobile browser, tight integration with iPod and iTunes media sync, and a novel app model.
With its Galaxy line of mobile products, Samsung has copied not just the overall look of the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, but went even further to add a "Touchwiz" layer to Android that makes its devices far more closely resemble Apple's products than other Android licensee have.
After the release of iPad 2, Samsung even publicly admitted needing to redesign its Galaxy Tab to more closely resemble Apple's product.
It was LG, not Samsung, who complained
After the iPhone's debut, it was LG, not Samsung, that complained Apple had copied its design. LG had actually demonstrated its own full-screen smartphone in the fall of 2006, and like the iPhone, it had a largely black, minimalist front. It was first to market with a capacitive touchscreen, the same type subsequently used by the iPhone.
Unlike the iPhone, LG's Prada phone built its user interface using Adobe Flash Lite, with a home screen featuring six round, monochrome icons and a separate menu bar. The phone was intended to sell through Prada stores, at $775.
After Apple unveiled the iPhone, LG's Woo-Young Kwak, who headed its Mobile Handset R&D Center, called a press conference and stated, "we consider that Apple copied the Prada phone after the design was unveiled when it was presented in the iF Design Award and won the prize in September 2006."
The company didn't file a lawsuit however. LG had already shown an affinity for Apple's designs, changing its LG Chocolate phone for the US market to resemble a classic iPod.
Two years later, LG delivered its GM730 phone running Windows Mobile 6.5, with a grid of colored icons above a home row of shortcuts, and rounded corners tipping a hat to the original iPhone. This year, the company is producing an Android-based Optimus X2, which appears closely pattered after last year's iPhone 4.

Rene nailed it. Samsung's intent was to provide a product that mirrored the iPhone right down to the packaging. It's just copying and rebranding which is lame.
Samsung's music icon (though it's obvious in all of them) is the most obvious... it's a complete ripoff of the iTunes icon. - Steal indeed.

OK, based on this suit, I am going to submit a drawing of a house for a tradmark. After it is granted, I will sue ANYONE that builds a house starting tomorrow. If Samsung BUILT AN IPHONE I could understand this, but they did not. Should Microsoft sue Apple because Apple uses drop down windows in their OS? Apple sells white phones, so no one else can? Can Apple prove they were damaged in any way from this phone? BB has a store that sells apps. Will Apple sue them too? Walmart sells groceries. So does Target. They both have it on their stores. Can one sue the other? Companies tradmark all their products. It is an Apple (TM) Iphone 4 (TM) and no one else can use that for their products. As far as I know, Samsung (TM) did not do that.

All this suit does is guarantee you'll never see a homescreen widget in iOS. And if, by some miracle, you do, you'll never hear the end of it from the Fandroids.

If Apple can sue Samsung, then Palm and Microsoft should sue Apple. They had the first touchscreen phones, particularly ones without keyboards. For example, The HTC Touch (Vogue) came out before the original iPhone. It's sleep button, volume rocker, and action button were all in the same place as that of the iPhone. Also, Palm had a screen full of app icons almost a decade before the iPhone. Apple is being ridiculous. 187 Million iOS devices to 6 million-ish Galaxy devices. What more do they want.

I think Apple should quietly start a viral whisper campaign to name and shame its most shameless copyists. Many people would be happy to spread the word since few decent people admire those who steal another's original work.
within a short space of time, most of the usual suspects will have their hands full in a damage control struggle trying to contain all the negative PR fallout and negate their descent into becoming laughing stocks.
I like this strategy.
I like it a lot!

Remember, this is the company that thinks it owns pinch and zoom. Get used to it.
And Samsung did rip them off. Get used to this too -- it's Korea. Until recently, their major manufacturers copied EVERYTHING. All major Asian countries do so until their manufacturers start requiring their own intellectual property be protected, and suddenly the government cares. And no, it's not racist to say that so nobody get their panties in a bunch.

I don't want to advertise another Blog but Nilay Patel formerly of Engadget (former patent lawyer) has a great article about it. It's great because it convinced me that Apple had a case... and trust me I think Apple is out of bounds suing HTC and Motorola. . but Samsung has some deliberate copies of stupid things like iOS ...
I think it's stupid because most of them.. they didn't have to make .. TouchWiz would look great without these apple icons they chose..

As I will keep saying...Apple has a point with the TouchWiz UI (which eh, death to that damn thing).
But as far as design...a rectangular device with a home button is just too generic to sue over.
So in closing. Yes, Apple should win based on the UI, but not on the design.

I agree. Phones with a metallic border around them have been around forever... but I think Apple threw that into the lawsuit because, on top of everything else, it was another thing that they seemed to have copied off Apple. When you've copied so much, things that look similar but might be accidental just blend right in.

Well, it's not just components for the iDevice's. For example, the more recently manufactured 2010 MacBook Air's all come with the "significantly faster" SSD's from Samsung, as opposed to the SSD Flash drives that they had coming from Toshiba.

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