Apple’s iPad and iPhone are such dominating forces in the tablet and mobile phone industries that other manufacturers often borrow from aspects of the products’ designs and user interfaces in hopes of luring some of the market share away. But how much “borrowing” can one manufacturer do until it’s considered an act of infringement?
Samsung may have indeed crossed that line with their line of tablet and smartphone devices, according to a lawsuit filed by Apple in the US District Court for the Northern District of California last Friday.
In the 38 page complaint, Apple claims that Samsung’s “Galaxy S 4G,” “Epic 4G,” and “Nexus S,” smartphones lifted intellectual property from the iPhone, and that the company’s “Galaxy Tab” touchscreen tablet infringed upon the iPad. Apple makes their case by providing side-by-side examples of product images, application icons, and even similar aspects of the devices’ packaging.
“Instead of pursuing independent product development, Samsung has chosen to slavishly copy Apple’s innovative technology, distinctive user interfaces, and elegant and distinctive product and packaging design, in violation of Apple’s valuable intellectual property rights,” reads the complaint.
Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet rebuffed notions that Samsung engineers could have arrived at these design aspects on their own.
“It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging,” she told reporters. “This kind of blatant copying is wrong and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”
Samsung issued a terse response to the lawsuit on Tuesday, as some news outlets speculated that a countersuit could be on the way.
“Samsung will respond actively to this legal action taken against us through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property,” said the company’s telecommunications spokesman Kim Titus.
Just how similar are these Apple and Samsung products? After browsing down through an in-depth analysis of the lawsuit by tech journalist Nilay Patel, I was rather shocked at how close some of the design elements were.
The big question now is who copied who? That, of course, will be up to the courts to decide.