Friday, July 27, 2012

Android maker Google warned Samsung its designs mimicked Apple's too closely

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but not when it comes to an Apple - Samsung lawsuit. As the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's lawsuit against Samsung enters the trial phase next week, it's clear that some of Apple's evidence comes straight from the horse's mouth (Samsung) and from Android platform maker Google, as well.

An unredacted trial brief dishes on the details. Apple says:

“Samsung’s documents show the similarity of Samsung’s products is no accident or, as Samsung would have it, a ‘natural evolution.’ Rather, it results from Samsung’s deliberate plan to free-ride on the iPhone’s and iPad’s extraordinary success by copying their iconic designs and intuitive user interface. Apple will rely on Samsung’s own documents, which tell an unambiguous story.”

For example, in 2011, Samsung’s own Product Design Group said that it is “regrettable” that the Galaxy S “looks similar” to older iPhone models (the iPhone 3G and 3GS). This similarity was pretty obvious to most, when putting the Samsung Galaxy S next to an iPhone 3GS, right down to icon placement.

Not only that, some of the documents Apple has in store for the court show that third-parties warned Samsung that its designs tread far too closely to the iPhone and iPad. Included in that was Google, which in February of 2010 told the Korean giant that its Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1 were “too similar” to the iPad and demanded “distinguishable design vis-à-vis the iPad for the P3 (10.1).”

In addition, Samsung had a formal evaluation, and the result will not be good when it appears in court. "Famous designers" warned the company that the Galaxy S “looked like it copied the iPhone too much,” and that “innovation is needed.”

The designers also added that the appearance of the Galaxy S “closely resembles the iPhone shape so as to have no distinguishable elements,” and “all you have to do is cover up the Samsung logo and it’s difficult to find anything different from the iPhone.”

Even Samsung was forced to admit the similarity. In Oct. of 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh challenged Samsung attorney Kathleen Sullivan to pick out which of two tablet was which, between an Apple and Samsung tablet. At a distance of 10 feet, Sullivan was unable to do so.

What can Samsung do to rebut these assertions? Samsung reportedly has some 2006 internal design presentations that describe a UI similar to the one that later appeared on the iPhone, and the company also intends to point out that Apple's designs themselves mimic fellow rival Sony's.

Still, things don't currently look good for Samsung, although it is true that its current superphone, the Galaxy S III, does not look significantly like the iPhone 4S or even the iPhone 3GS.

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