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back to article Apple's US bid to ban Samsung tabs hinges on design

A US judge has said that she won't ban Samsung tablets on functionality, but might still do so based on design, and that Cupertino has yet to demonstrate those patents are valid. The comments were made by Judge Lucy Koh, who isn't deciding if there is genuine infringement – that will take a lot longer – but the judge will soon …

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Gold badge
Devil

Oh that's just bloody great.

Someone please tell me how the fuck we got to the point where the shinyness of the plastic case is as / more important than the functionality of the device when it comes to differentiating products?

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Look and feel

Companies in all industries take their image very seriously. If a competitor produces a product that looks similar, they sue.

Try marketing a Cola flavour drink in a red can with white text in a certain font and a wavy line. See what happens.

The reason they do this is that IF the product is in some way bad (and it being a Samsung, I doubt it is bad), some people may well blame the original manufacturer.

Before you say they should know it's not an iPad, they should. However, not everyone is that technically savvy, and in my experience, Samsung have not gone out of their way to place obvious logos on any of their recent devices. So, with the device looking a little like an iPad, and (in the case of some Samsungs), the screen layout looking like an iPad, some people could get confused.

Of course, Samsung have a guaranteed way out of this. They could stop manufacturing products designed to ape Apple. I hope they take it.

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er, it isn't?

er, the two are different? they're two products that are clearly in broadly the same product category - 'tablets' - and hence if one is directly ripping off the design of the other, surely you can see it's reasonable for that to be considered an issue?

there's a legitimate question as to whether the galaxy tab really *does* simply rip off the ipad's design, but I don't really have a problem with the fundamental principle - you shouldn't be allowed to simply directly copy a direct competitor's design, if there's some degree of uniqueness/novelty to that design which is not dictated by the device's function.

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FAIL

Well....

"Samsung have not gone out of their way to place obvious logos on any of their recent devices"

You mean, besides the fairly large, obvious "SAMSUNG" logo they slap on the back of their device? Or if you're talking phones, the "SAMSUNG" logo they put on the front at the bottom... My Samsung Droid Charge looks nothing like an iPhone, esp with the big logo on the face....

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@Stuart Castle

"Try marketing a Cola flavour drink in a red can with white text in a certain font and a wavy line. See what happens"

Supermarket own brands deliberately ape the design (both packaging and product) of branded market leaders, in every category. Nothing happened.

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Silver badge
Linux

Works both ways?

Once a punter buys an ipad they're unlikely* to switch away from the Apple ecosystem, so Apple will have gained a lifelong customer through the use of a malicious lawsuit.

Until actual infringement has been proven or not, Samsung should be free to sell its product. If they are found guilty, then they can be appropriately punished. As it stands, Samsung are being punished before being found guilty. If they're subsequently found to have not infringed, I hope Apple will be hammered with a massive compensation bill.

* I upgraded my iphone to a Galaxy S2.

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It's only one of the tests for the injunction, the other is that Apple needs to demonstrate that they are likely to win the final case.

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Yeah!

""In Australia and Germany, where bans are already in place, Apple successfully argued that once a punter buys a Samsung tablet they're unlikely to switch into the Apple ecosystem, so Samsung will have gained a lifelong customer through the use of an infringing product. That's very self-deprecating for Apple"

Oh dear. What a pity. Never mind.

Me? I would take a Galaxy over an Apple any day as I prefer to buy into chioce, not a dictatorship.

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It isn't like Samsung is not playing the same game with iPhone

Besides, they are being realistic. Most products DON'T have such a massive superiority as to overcome inertia. Once they buy a Samsung Tablet, even if they don't buy a Samsung next time they won't be buying iPads because of its different OS (unless of course they really hated Android).

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LPF
FAIL

Sorry but seriously...

the new samsung designs look like the iPhone and Ipad respectively and it not be accident, the HTC phones for android look nothing like the iPhones.

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Anonymous Coward

1 word

BOLLOX!

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Big Brother

the real thing is misleading customers and thereby getting sales.. No one is buying galaxy phones or tablets thinking they are iphones or ipads.. If galaxy family of products are banned then that is not exactly going to translate to apple sales.. Instead it could be htc or motorola sales.. What part of this the judges need to be told?

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Coat

You know how the Nexus Prime was delayed due to Steve Jobs death?

They shouldn't have done that.

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Yeah well

That turned out to be a Big Lie. Seems they had a delay due to rewriting some of the software, and cynically pretended to be upset at iSteve's death. Those companies are beyond despicable.

http://www.bgr.com/2011/10/11/samsung-google-accused-of-lying-about-galaxy-nexus-delay-patents-said-to-be-real-reason/

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Bronze badge

Cynically pretended? IS THERE NO GOD?

Even if they "cynically pretended to be upset", does that really constitute "beyond despicable" behavior? Murder: despicable. Cynically pretending: *beyond* despicable.

That's probably the most ridiculous bit of hyperbole in all of human history.

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Anonymous Coward

Genius

I suppose if she held two laptops above her head people would have trouble telling those apart too

(well at least in the days before they came in a variety of day-glo colours)

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If you created a new and recognisably different laptop enclosure design and were awarded a design patent on it, then that would be a reasonable question to ask. In fact if you held up a unibody MacBook and any other contemporary device - yes - it would be pretty easy to spot the difference, especially if you were a lawyer who's job it was to argue that such a difference was present!

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Bronze badge

Really?

I know quite a few people who are not into tech stuff that struggle to tell what is an apple and what isn't. It's a laptop and that's it.

I also know people who think that my sister in laws plastic fantastic cheapo HP is a Mac just because it's painted silver...

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Rob
Bronze badge
Stop

If the judge had held...

... 3 devices up (I know she would need an extra hand), 1 being iPad, 1 being the Samsung and the other being a prop tablet from Star Trek the Next Generation, I pretty sure they would still have trouble identifying which was which from a distance.

Either way this case still looks like desperate by Apple.

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I can't tell most modern cars apart. does that mean they all infringe each other's patent?

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Yes. BMW, and VW have been gone after a number of chinese car manufacturers who have lanuched cars that are virtually identical except for the badges. This has become a major area especially since companies invest huge amounts in developing the design of their cars.

For Apple though the patent only really serves to protect their trademark design (they don't have to register it for it to be a trademark) and demonstrate that they had this design first and that it is specifically associated with their products.

So to be honest I think Samsung will lose this. They have infringed Apple's design on the basis of the published patent.

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No it means you have a poor eye for detail.

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Thumb Down

If you can't tell them apart, you're an idiot

Let's see. Galaxy Tab has a widescreen aspect ratio, iPad does not. Galaxy Tab is really thin, iPad is not.

Maybe from 50 feet away that can be harder, but I thought tablets were meant to be held.

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Really thin?

Really really thin, or just officially really thin? The 10.1 is reported to be very slightly thinner than the iPad-2, .2mm thinner, but actual photographs show it as very slightly thicker.

http://www.gottabemobile.com/2011/03/25/samsung-galaxy-tab-10-1-actually-thicker-than-ipad-2/

And reports have suggested that this is due to supply shortages, so that not all 10.1s sold are actually 8.6mm thick.

http://www.slashgear.com/samsung-galaxy-tab-10-1-to-be-thicker-than-ipad-2-due-to-supply-shortage-10158766/

Typical samsung bait & switch.

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2, maybe

My father has an original iPad and I went and played around with the Galaxy Tab at Best Buy and it felt like a credit card in comparison. Maybe the contoured back makes the iPad feel thicker than it really is. In any event, I'm pretty damn sure that I could tell the two apart blindfolded.

I'd love to hear your explanation as to how the aspect ratio is really the same. I know that Apple has been caught photoshopping the Galaxy in their court documents to make them look identical, but that's not the same as making it true. Quite the opposite, in my estimation...

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Can someone explain or point me to somewhere that explains exactly what samsung is accused off and the reason why its illegal. Because just from some of the stories it seems that the tab and S2 are being accused of looking too much like the apple products, and its not clear if that is indeed the problem or if there are a lot more details involved, such as details of component parts etc.

If it is mainly just that from the outside they look similar, I have to say I'm more than a little shocked. As the S2 doesn't seem all that similar to the iphone, at least no more so than any smart phone, which is to say rectangular with a black border. Similarly all tablets have a very similar core design.

My main question is if these samsung products are deemed to be illegal based only on how they look from the outside, does the same ruling not make the majority of TVs illegal, as those vary even less between manufactures. Also you often have cars that look fairly similar made by different companies, and what about your house, if your house design looks a lot like someone else's are you in trouble. Airplanes also look almost identicle and so on.

Is conforming to the core logical/obvious design of a product type illegal?

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Innovation!!11

Apple innovated the rectangular tablet with rounded edges and a smooth glass screen.

"But wait", you might be thinking, "tablets have been around for years and they all looked like that." And you'd be thinking correctly. Nevertheless, this is just another one of Apple's legendary Retroactive Innovations. (they own the patent on retroactive innovations, btw.)

From this day forward, tablets must either be round or oblong, or they must have dangerous razor-sharp edges and/or fiberglass splinters embedded in the touchscreen. Don't question it.

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All this apple bashing..

This is no different to me building a car that looks identical to another.

Mazda, for example, cant go and copy the latest Ferrari design and then stick their own engine/gearbox/seats etc inside, slap a Mazda badge on it and expect no one to notice.

No different here, no one made an iPad design/shaped device before the iPad and when other companies copy the design they should expect some interest from Apples lawyers.

Samsung could have made their product distinct. They chose to copy instead. They got sued.

Why I am not suprised.

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Silver badge

I beg to differ

This is only my oppinion, but...

I used a Tablet a fair while before the iPad came out. It was a Windows-based tablet. It had a screen in the middle, a border round the edge, and that's pretty much it.

OK, it was bigger, thicker, and not as "slick". But, hey, that's mainly technology improving.

Similarly, I used touch-screen smart phones and PDAs before the iPhone. These were, by and large, the same as the iPhone, but a bit more bulky (mainly, again, down to the technology)

IMHO, as with most Apple products, the iPhone and iPad (which is just a scaled up iPhone anyway) are derrivative in design from what came before.

Now I will admit that Samsung are treading close to the line which divides derrivative from blatant copying (and may have crossed it, I haven't actually seen the products in question), but I do think that those who say "Wow, Apple are SO innovative!" (as was said many times after Jobs' death) have selective memory. What Apple are good at is taking an existing concept and refining it, making it more usable for that average man on the street. I take nothing away from them for that, they do it very well, but that is it.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

You don't know much about car history do you?

I had an MR2 which anyone who was not into cars initially mistook for a Ferrari (as I am sure was Toyota's idea when they designed it!)

There are also companies producing 'Kit' cars that do exactly what you say here. You buy a skeleton car and fit your own seats, engine gearbox (steering, suspension et al) and you have a Countach, AC Cobra, Lotus 7, 355GTS etc etc etc. (Well look alike anyway!) There is a whole industry surrounding this!

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Anonymous Coward

nope

They steal design cue's from each other all day long, which is what Samsung did. The tablets are not "identical with different innards". They aren't even the same frigging shape. If you can't tell the two apart you've never bothered to look at it. It's no different than the idiot walking down the street who thinks every touchscreen phone is an iphone.

Furthermore, if the way it looks is the question at hand, there was already prior art. Apple ripped off plenty of previous devices, including this one:

http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-04-26/tech/29960327_1_ipad-gawker-commercial-internet

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Stop

You're conveniently ignoring the fact that _all_ tablets look the same... There's only so many ways you can put a large 7-10" touchscreen on the front without visible buttons and not have all your 'designs' look the same. Nevermind that the exact same design has been in movies since the late 60s.

You might as well be saying that all minimalistic website designs with a single search box and a picture above it are copying google's 'design', ie scroogle/google/tons of others. It's a search box with a picture above it, get over yourself. Ditto for the tablets., it's a screen with no buttons.

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Anonymous Coward

", no one made an iPad design/shaped device before the iPad "

Again,

1 word

BOLLOX

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Anonymous Coward

"average man on the street"

and "i" product users are just that!

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Maybe you don't know

Or maybe it's selective amnesia, but Ferrari, Caterham, lotus have all successfully sued kit car copyists, and forced them to either desist, or change their designs.

And that is as it should be.

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Dr Mouse

why not link a picture of this tablet that looked so much like an IPad? From what I saw of windows tablets pre 2010 they looked utterly different from an iPad, they had big thick bezels rather than flush glass screens with borders for starters. The bezels had buttons and frequently ornamental insets.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

You sir, are a moron and ignorant to boot.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903927204576570684217745772.html

/sarcasm=on

This is obviously a blatant copy of an iPad and is indistinguishable from one.

/Sarcasm off

Philip

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Silver badge

@cloudgazer

Why not link a picture? Because I don't have one.

But you are right. The screen wasn't flush. It had a button or 2. It was grey, not black.

I am not saying you could not distinguish between them, just that they were of the same concept. All that's moved on is technology: It would have been much more difficult/expensive at that time to do a flush screen and thinner bezel, if it was even possible. If you looked at the PDAs & Smartphones of the time, they also had thick bezels. This does not stop them being pretty much the same, barring improvements which have come mostly from new technology.

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To me the front of an MR2 mk3 does have a bit of a Porsche 911/Boxter/etc look about it.

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006
FAIL

How could they not tell them apart..

At the back of the Galaxy tab it says "Samsung" with either a black or white back.

The apple comes in 2 all colurs white or all black.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

So it looks like the other?

What's the fucking problem there? I mean, are you trying to tell me someone might not notice the big SAMSUNG logo on the front, or the Android OS, until after they've bought it or something??!

"Gee sweetheart, I really really thought I'd bought an iPad..."

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iPad looks a bit like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JooJoo

Maybe JooJoo should be suing everyone!

I think the whole thing is akin to convergent evolution, it just makes sense that tablets look like that

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"On February 1, 2010, Fusion Garage CEO Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan announced that JooJoo pre-orders had increased following the debut of the Apple iPad"

JooJoo as a parallel development contemporary with the iPad, there is no problem with either of them in the market.

Galaxy tab is a later project and too similar to both the JooJoo and iPad. Sony's tablet shows flair and originality. It isn't necessary to slavishly copy the first device(s) to enter the playground.

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Happy

Lawyers

That isn't evidence of anything except that lawyers are ignorant morons, which is already pretty well known.

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Facepalm

Ignorant morons

Ain't that the truth. What is even worse is that they are being paid to be experts whilst hiding their ignorance behind a fancy piece of paper.

Only today I got a letter from my Solictor looking after the sale of my house who has just recieved a set of dumass questions from the Purchasers Solicitor and has send me a letter asking me to to answer them.

Dumass question no 1. Have we ever had the house tested for Radon? Had to explain my answer of "effing stupid question. Of course not. The house is not in Cornwall". He wanted to know what the geographic location had to do with Radon testing. Turns out he does not know what Radon is.

Dumass question No 2. What was the council tax band and annual council tax bill? My answer of "Effing look it up yourself on the Government website where every house's band and bill is conviently available" was met with a somewhat shocked expression. He had no idea apparently and the Purchaser's solicitor also had no idea. (Well either that or they get to charge for writing letters back and forth, but not to actually know anything.)

This from a Solicitor who specialises in conveyancing.......apparently.

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Anonymous Coward

The judges descision

IMHO, I think all patent copyright infringement lawsuits, both parties have their products taken off sale whilst the lawsuit takes place, this will reduce the amount of backstabbing on infringments they are clearly one upmanship. Also stops the greedy lawers getting paid massive amounts of money for arguing as they are the big winners!

Gadget

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Anonymous Coward

Wow, judiciary are thick as pigs shite, no matter where you live!

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Anonymous Coward

Oh come on...

Come on Apple

Usually similarities in laptops hasn't been an issue

Neither has it been for really similar cars

This will probably also get very out of hand

Samsung will hopefully get a sensible decision

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Anonymous Coward

@ AC 15:03

Laptops all look the same because they always have, in the same way that desktops all look the same. Once you get a standard set of criteria (only a few screen types available in the early days, needs a keyboard, running MS Windows so needs certified components) you end up with similar kit.

Can you name any "really similar" cars that would fit the bill? Off the top of my head I can think of only a few:

Old MR2 looked like a Ferrari - but not a specific Ferrari, just that it looked like it had been made by Ferrari rather than Toyota.

Jaguar S-Type looked like a Rover 75 but they were designed by the same team, likewise the jag XK8 and Aston Martins.

Remember that Ferrari successfully sued Ford for calling their SUV the F150 which allegedly could be mistaken for Ferraris F150 sportscar?

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No...

Ford sued Ferrari...might want to google something next time you decide to speak about it.

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