As many are aware the┬ámobile development companies (Apple and Samsung) have been duking it out over patents, designs, and intellectual property. The case is starting to wind down and people are beginning to wonder, did Samsung copy Apple? While some evidence is pointing to a positive answer here, it also raises an interesting question. Does it really matter if the mobile development company copied Apple?
Apple has lain out that the mobile development company, Samsung, has copied more than just any one aspect of their devices. The claim is that Samsung mimicked many small individual design components in the hardware, GUI, UX, features, and even marketing and packaging used. They seem to have a solid case offering side by side examples of their product and the offending mirror.
Up to this point Samsung has insisted that they came up with their ideas on their own and did not copy Apple. They have stated that a similar appearance does not mean they copied anything. It is interesting to see the back and forth between these two. Samsung even went as far as to point out that the leaked early models of the iPhone were a copy of a Sony product.
Apple is making the case that copying a competitorÔÇÖs product destroys innovation. A relevant example of them making this claim was in mid-1990 when they made their famous case ÔÇ£look and feelÔÇØ against Microsoft. They claimed that “we innovated in creating the graphical user interface; Microsoft copied us; if our competitors simply copy us, it’s impossible for us to keep innovating.ÔÇØ They lost the case, but what happened next is the important part. They didnÔÇÖt stop innovating at all. They pumped out the Mac, their iOS X, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. This fact brings to question that if the copying didnÔÇÖt stop their innovation, why are they making the same case again?
Could copying be good?
Obviously mimicking a design to a tee and selling it under a different name is not alright, but is it really bad for a competitor to see something that works and incorporate it into their design? Evidence shows that there are a number of successful industries that are lax on copying. One of the most common bits of advice given when looking for new ideas is to find something that already exists and improve upon it. The truth is that great innovations often build upon existing ones.
Apple has even taken a leaf from a competitors book at least once which is proven by Samsung with an email from Apple exec Eddy Cue stating that a change needed to be made to the iPad lineup based on his experience with a Samsung product. This isnÔÇÖt a claim that the mobile development company is a fraud, but it does point out that copying can be a good thing.
What I Think
The fact that these lawsuits are flying around everywhere of late is evidence that copying is happening. I canÔÇÖt say whether Apple or Samsung is right in their case, but I can point out that the precedence set by this case will have a very large impact. I am not a big fan of design patents and have found the last few months of everyone suing each other to be frustrating. I feel that what will kill innovation is the fear of creating something new and being sued for it. It looks like every new idea that comes out now has to face down patent law suits left and right. This is an exaggeration; however I do not like the way patents seem to be impacting our technological advancement or the mobile development world. Apple did some cool things with their iPhone and I refuse to make the ÔÇ£square deviceÔÇØ argument against them, but I will say that their lawyers appear to be a little trigger happy with their patent suits. Apple seems to always be suing someone for something.
Innovation and advancement is what we all want and need out of these companies and the constant battle on who copied who is starting to wear on consumers. Does it really matter if Samsung copied AppleÔÇÖs ideas? If it is true does it mean Apple should win? What about the precedent it sets? These are all questions that we and the judges have to think about. The fact is innovation starts with ideas. Ideas can be spontaneous, drawn out, and a lot of the time, based on previous ideas.