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back to article Netherlands Supremes squash iPad design patent

If even the ordinary man in the street can tell the difference between an Apple iPad and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, then Samsung hasn't infringed on Apple's design rights, according to a court in The Netherlands. It's not a killer blow in the international patent war-of-running-skirmishes between the two companies: this decision …

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Anonymous Coward

Not sure

Not sure whether to be happy that common sense has prevailed, or annoyed that it had to go all the way to the Netherlands' Supreme Court. Happy, I guess, because there is no appeal for Apple*.

* Any ambiguity is strictly unintentional. Honest.

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Meh

Re: Not sure

Ordinary Man?

The true differentiators between tablets are quality of materials, logo and price. (Without switching it on)

The ordinary man will know that if it feels cheap and plasticky it is not from Apple.

The ordinary man will see the Apple logo and know it is from Apple.

The ordinary man will be told the price of the tablet, choke and realise it must be from Apple.

The ordinary man will by something cheaper ........

So the courts in 'coffee shop capitals of Netherlands' do have a point.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure

The Asus and Sony tablets don't feel cheap and plasticky. But they massively undersell Apple.

I think that the tablet market is an example of the "nobody knows anything" syndrome. Steve Jobs's conviction that 10 inch diagonal was a minimum turned out to be completely wrong. There is something that was done right about the iPads, but I am not sure that anybody knows what it really was: Being first? Ease of use? Marketing spend? Appearance? Battery life? What is clear is that nobody else was able to replicate the early success, and Apple's litigation had several bad effects: it dented their public image, it made people aware of the alternatives, and it encouraged competitors to differentiate, with Samsung in particular spending a lot on leapfrogging Apple technically.

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Childcatcher

Re: Not sure

This is Holland we are talking about. You have to take into account that he average punter on the streets of Amsterdam may be off his (or her) face so the difference must be really obvious.

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FAIL

Re: This is Holland we are talking about

No. It was an EU-wide binding decision. As the article states. The Netherlands is only a Member State. It is not the entire EU.

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Pint

Re: Not sure

I would have thought that S A M S U N G in big silver letters on the front of the tablets is a huge giveaway that it is an iPad... Erm, I mean not an iPad

Beer: One too many at lunchtime, so I probably can't tell either way.

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@Mips re: Not Sure

Yeah, because the fact you can procure decent weed easily means everyone must go around wired to the sky all the time.

Last I heard, being stoned is considered pretty gauche by the majority of Dutch people, especially those who live/work in tourist towns like Amsterdam.

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Re: Not sure

I tought Steve Jobs was wrong on this point. that 10" is the absolute minimum. And I therefore bought the iPad mini.

Steve Jobs was not wrong, he was very correct. What he was wrong in but did not say, the iPad is to heavy while the iPad mini is light enough. When those two get combined i go and buy the next iPad, it will have a 10" screen.

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Re: Not sure

"There is something that was done right about the iPads, but I am not sure that anybody knows what it really was"

Oh this is easy - getting vast amounts of media coverage, even before it was announced, let alone released. (The point being, since this came before, it was a causitive factor, rather than an effect.)

That and getting lots of distribution in shops. I mean, it's hardly surprising that people didn't buy Android tablets (which actually were released earlier) when no one knew about them, or hardly any shops sold them. The first Android tablets to get significant sales were the ones from companies that got media attention in the media (Amazon, Google).

Indeed, as you say yourself - "it made people aware of the alternatives" - Apple's litigation made things worse. Any publicity for both Apple and alternatives is bad for Apple, because previously the media only gave attention to Apple.

Now that attention and distribution of Android tablets is finally improved, IOS's tablet share has collapsed. Also remember that although Apple's share may have been higher, sales as a whole were far lower. The original ipad wasn't the revolution that the media claimed it would be - it was 6 months before I even saw someone with one.

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Re: getting vast amounts of media coverage...getting lots of distribution in shops.

Right on the first point, not so much on the second.

I know someone who was involved in iPhone and iPad sales at a major US national retailer. He said Jobs actually limited the availability of devices at release which added to the snob factor (only he calls it the "coolness" factor). That supported the super-high margins Apple commands for their inferior hardware. On the other hand, he still bought the iPhone because even though the hardware is inferior, Apple supports it for a longer time. So he's expecting a lower TCO over the 4-5 years he plans to own the phone.

But overall you are correct that it was the media manipulation, not the engineering that sold the product.

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Don't Worry

There's still the other 3,354 other patent/design lawsuits going through... The lawyers children shall not go hungry!

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WTF?

'ordinary man' ? .. plus 10 pints of ale .. "can tell the difference .."

now if Samsung were to start putting chewed fruit* logos on it's products .. could see the problem

Apple .. suing reliable / quality suppliers a company depends on .. that it can not buy out .. is just stupid business ..

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The test that they hav applied is the equivalant in the UK of the 'man on the clapham omnibus' (thanks QI). Basically what an average man would believe to be the case.

There is still, I believe, the issue of 'Trade Dress' to be resolved however so there us still mileage in this yet.

Apples business model in this is unfortunately not unique... The only reason that other companies don't sue on these issues is that they have ACTUAL patents... Although that isn't going too well for Google

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@ChrisM - the issue of 'Trade Dress' yet to be resolved

This will also be interesting, as whilst some Samsung devices did get packaged in a style that was very close to that used by Apple, the question is who actually saw this dress BEFORE they purchased and hence were confused? I don't remember there being shelves loaded with boxed Apple and Samsung devices in PC World, Tesco's etc. just waiting for people to pick them up - in the same way as these stores made a big feature of the Kindle, Windows, Office etc..

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Coat

Dutch Supremes, eh?

"Ooh-ooh

Ooh Baby liefde, mijn baby liefde

Ik heb je nodig, oh hoe ik heb je nodig

Maar alles wat je doet wordt behandelt me ​​slecht

Breek mijn hart en laat me verdrietig

Vertel me, wat heb ik fout gedaan

Om je zo lang weg te blijven..."

And now I can't get that song out of my head!

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Re: Dutch Supremes, eh?

Those sentences are horribly mangled! Not quite sure if on purpose or not

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Pint

Re: Dutch Supremes, eh?

Well, at least it's sort of comprehensible Dutch even though it's wrong.

Anyway, where would the world be without Google translate?

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Re: Dutch Supremes, eh?

Heh, true. Would that make it english-dutch instead of the oft used dutch-english(obviously the translation goes the other way round).

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Repeating the same action and expecting different results is a symptom of madness

Years ago, Apple sued Microsoft for copying Apple's look and feel. Microsoft came back with some case law showing that look and feel were not protected. The case in question was when Xerox Parc sued Apple for copying exactly the same look and feel. Decades later, Apple copy Etch-a-Sketch and sue Samsung for copying Etch-a-Sketch.

I thought Judge Birss had squashed this already. When Apple sued Samsung in the UK, it made the UK court the European community court for this case. The idea was to prevent the same case being repeated in every member state. Apple got a spanking for raising the same issues in Germany and were required to run a series of adverts quoting the ruling that Samsung did not copy Apple.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-18/apple-must-publish-notice-samsung-didn-t-copy-ipad-judge-says.html

http://www.dailytech.com/Apple+Caught+Using+Photoshop+to+Fake+More+Pics+in+Lawsuits/article22500.htm

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Re: Repeating the same action and expecting different results is a symptom of madness

I thought Judge Birss had squashed this already. When Apple sued Samsung in the UK, it made the UK court the European community court for this case.

I haven't looked, but I'd hazard a guess it's probably a different community design they're using for this one. If enough of these courts use the same common logic, eventually Apple may get the idea.

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"Community design"

What a great name for what is a ridiculous concept:

Community (n): A group of people living together in one place, esp. one practicing common ownership: "a community of nuns".

How does the community part of Community Design come into play here then?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Community design"

Of course it is not a ridiculous concept. Your definition of community is very restricted. My dictionary gives 7 different uses (including people with common interests).

Certain communities have very clear design philosophies associated with them - obvious examples being the Amish, Nazi Germany, Zen Buddhists and the High Church wing of the Church of England.

The idea that electronics manufacturers form a kind of community, and that they tend to share a design language, makes obvious sense.

Car manufacturers are exactly the same; although the design of cars changes with the years, at any given time cars from different manufacturers tend to resemble on another more than cars by the same manufacturer over an extended period. Currently they are all into flat noses and arthropod-like creases. And they are not sueing one another.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Community design"

Difference is in how closely they copy - when Sammy's own lawyers apparently could not tell the difference when the judge held them up - ??

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@ Apple Cultist

I thought that was Apple's lawyer, actually?

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Re: "Community design"

That was a bit of a bogus test relating to a bogus concept... Most tablets are flat things with rounded corners. The important part, and what really differentiates one from another, is what happens when you switch it on and move beyond the homescreen...

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Re: "Community design"

Car manufacuters do sue eachother over design.

Something the new startup brands has had to deal with, the experienced car manufacturers knows already where the line goes and do not copy the look and feel, though they bring in the same features.

Last time I read about such a case it was BMW suing an other manufacturer for the design of the rear lights, can't remember the brand something Korean or Chineese.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Community design"

Apple tried to sue over a very generic shape. Car makers do not.

I almost admire the cheek of Kia, who now sport front ends with a distinctly BMW- like appearance. Though as with Samsung the message to be conveyed might well be "We're coming to get you".

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Boffin

In the best of all possible worlds,

this judgement would put an end to at least this version of Apple's efforts at «competition by lawyer». Alas, however, this seems extremely unlikely, and ordinary punters are going to continue to have to pay the inflated salaries of barristers arguing their client's exclusive rights to rectangles with rounded corners. It will no doubt be interesting to watch the excellent Herr Leibniz attempting to explain his way out of this one !...

Henri

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In the best of all possible worlds,

To be pedantic, barristers are normally self employed and don't have salaries.

However, one does wonder. If a Conservative MP can boast that he earns £3/4 million as a barrister, doing what is obviously a part time job, then either:

1. The law is in such a mess that whether you get your verdict depends on who you have on your side, which means that ordinary people do not have access to justice any longer.

OR

2. Some barristers are paid far too much.

In either case something should be done about it. A good start would be to ban barristers from practising law while members of either house of Parliament. How can it be right if the people who argue about laws also get to make them.

OK, morning rant over.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In the best of all possible worlds,

Barristers... and law firms... a bit like "nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM". Probably luck and family connections that got them their first win.

Yes fully agree with you.

They certainly aren't all paid well... the wife gave up after a year of paying chambers' rent and only got two 1/2 day jobs representing some legal aid visa overstayer...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In the best of all possible worlds,

Hence my comment "Some barristers..." Like the Stage, it is not good enough just to be very good; luck and patronage are essential.

Mind you, London solicitors charge a fortune for knowing how to fill in the forms properly. It is also very much a case of what you know - and it should not be. The original way that the Patricians controlled the Plebs in ancient Rome was that they controlled access to the legal system, and it is all happening again. Common Law gets dumped for Statute Law which is produced by the Government faster than it can possibly be digested, and clever people who keep up with the mountain of verbiage use it to their advantage.

The German legal system was redesigned after WW2 with the help of the British Army (the same organisation that did such a good job on Volkswagen...). The result is a law book of manageable size, and reasonably paid lawyers. I'm told that civil suits in Germany cost barely a tenth of what they do in this country; perhaps someone better informed could comment on this.

So we can do it...we can set up world beating car firms, and we can set up legal systems that were excellent for their time (as well as German law, Lord Macaulay reformed the Indian judicial system in the previous century). We just can't do it at home.

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It is sad though....

It is very sad that manufacturers are producing product so similar to each other that there is a need for this sort of thing. Really it is quite pathetic that Samsungs engineers couldn't design and create a product that is better than the iPad, the iPad really isn't all that stunning. Much the same is true of mobile phones - the number of near identical looking phones in the shops is depressing. Even Nokia have started making their phones look pretty much like yet another buttonless featureless slab. 10 years ago there were flip, folding, chocolate bars, then the more exotic designs - especially from Nokia where sometimes entire querty keyboards would fold out ready for people to message...all of it is now lost to the unusable flat screen bit of glass... and no, I can't use one of them while walking down the street with its lack of buttons and feedback... its horrid - even in a train or taxi they are near impossible - and I don't spend enough time sat on the settee at home to want to use one there.

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Happy

Re: It is sad though....

Hey, if that means idiot drivers are prevented from texting while they are driving then I, for one, am all for it.

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Facepalm

Re: It is sad though....

The missus has a Samsung tablet... Made so much more usable by a £17 bluetooth keyboard.

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Devil

Re: It is sad though....Can't help that Form & Function are linked

The fact remains that if you are making a touch screen device meant to view documents and web content, the form of the device will logically follow it's functional attributes. One of those "form" ideas was a touch keyboard that frankly does not (in my opinion) work as well as a dedicated keyboard. But that type keyboard does make the device alot smaller and less expensive. Overall size and shape are all similar since they follow the functional requirements to slip in a pocket or folio, rounded corners (for comfort) started with hip flasks in the 1700's so nothing to patent there, sixe is based on what the document format was and what can be easily seen.

I COMPLETELY AGREE about the lack of tactile feedback especially as my eyesight slowly degrades. On my old phone, I could dial any number with my eyes closed, not so on any smart phones with touch.

Which disabled person or group will sue them first????

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Trollface

Optional

Dear Apple,

You're holding protecting it wrong.

Or

You're holding suing it them wrong.

Oh, I dunno. I'm too tired today.

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Facepalm

I can imagine how the conversation went:

Here's a tablet that you can sync with practically any android phone (or tablet) from any manufacturer.

Here's a tablet that can only sync with an overpriced piece of crap iPhone.

Which one is which?

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FAIL

Here's an idiot who clearly knows absolutely nothing about Apple devices, and what other devices they can easily sync with using a variety of services such as Google Sync, CalDAV, CardDAV, Exchange etc.

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Re: It's not a killer blow in the international patent war-of-running-skirmishes

If it isn't, that's only because a lot of judges want to make more of an ass out of the law than is usual.

Granted, it is unexpected to see a judge actually implementing a reasonable man standard, but now that it's been done once it should be obvious to everyone else.

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