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Apple vs Samsung Both Win?

Jared A Levy


The two companies account for over 50% of Smartphones sold worldwide.  The two companies are facing off in a California courtroom today in a technology patent trial.

Apple wants to ban US sales of the Samsung Galaxy series Smartphones and tablets, citing their similarity to Apple’s  i-products (iPhone & iPad).  But do they really have a case? 

Samsung was already given the blessing to sell its products in the UK in a similar case earlier this month.  Sure US laws are different, but can Apple really dictate how we as consumers generally interact with a device? 

My point is that Apple is trying to gain control of their idea of a device in a sense; but if other manufacturers can change the innards and make slight modifications to the bells and whistles, Apple may not have a leg to stand on.   As long as others just make slight changes, can Apple really hold a patent on the way we interact with a device completely?  I don’t think so… You can’t patent innovation

Did the inventor of the wooden wheel get royalties when the rubber tire was invented?  No..

If you think about it another way, it might help.   

The Car

George B. Selden was granted a U.S. patent for an automobile in 1895.  His patent spawned decades of ingenuity and improvement on his contraption.  He even battled 4 major car companies in the early 20th century for patent infringement; initially winning a case with Ford, but eventually lost that battle in an appeal as Ford said that their car engines were based on a different model unrelated to Selden.

Selden spent a large amount of money fighting those cases and all the while, cars continued to evolve and other automakers created bigger and better things for people to drive and Selden did not get a royalty for every car made even during the patent’s validity.

The reality is that Apple did change the way we interact with our devices in many ways; the way we “pinch” our fingers to zoom in and out, the way we download applications through an “app store” and so much more.  But to say that Samsung is the only one copying them would be a lie and the most interesting part is that most Samsung Smartphones run Google’s Android Operating system, which makes me wonder why Google isn’t being pulled into this.   

Samsung, like many phone makers, overlay their own proprietary “skin” over the Android system that modifies functionality and makes the phone more personal to the maker, not to mention potentially more attractive to the consumer. 

Tablets & Smartphones

When I pick up a Samsung device, it doesn’t operate like an Apple product at all; even the clicking action feels and responds differently. 

Sure there is some functionality that I can attribute to Apple, but those are used by every Smartphone maker anyway and they are not even the issues in question.   Apple has also taken cues from others in their products.

Just about all Smartphones have similar characteristics, but because they all use different chipsets, modified and customized software and look just a little bit different from each other; common sense tells me that Apple is most likely going to lose this battle. 

Apple may have even stolen the iPhone form factor from Sony, so I think they need to just get over it.  That’s what happens when you have too much cash on your hands I guess. 

The reality is that both names are the top brands in the Smartphone space with Google right next to them.  In my mind this case costs both companies some money, but I don’t think Apple will see any major gains from it unless the courts stop everyone from making devices that look at all like iPads and touch screen Smartphones like the iPhone.

The general Smartphone and tablet form factor is not patentable, period.

I say just buy Apple and Google and call it a day.  Samsung has such a wide array of products that it’s hard to make the pure Smartphone play, plus it does not trade in the US,  so I would just stay away.

What say all of you?


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