This dispute has been long and fierce. It began way back in 2007, when the iPhone was first released by Apple. Samsung followed shortly with its Galaxy line of mobile phones, which were designed to compete with Apple’s then-revolutionary product. Although the Galaxy phones use an entirely different operating system (Android), Apple has claimed that Samsung copied enough of the concepts and used too much of their prior art for the Galaxy phones to be considered original.
Interestingly enough, Samsung has claimed the same thing about Apple and has accused the company of stealing some of their prior art as well. They also have fired back, saying that Apple has only brought a suit against them because they are afraid of competition. It has become downright nasty between these two companies!
This dispute is a perfect illustration for why patents are so important and for why it is absolutely vital to be clear about the designs and functions of your products. Both of these companies have created innovative products that have unique and intricate design elements. Apple loyalists would say that the iPhone is different (and better) than the Galaxy phone, and Android loyalists would say the opposite. Each camp would certainly note the similarities between the two products, but can also distinguish the differences.
When it comes to patent law, however, the language must be so precise, and the drawings must be so accurate. Everything has to be nailed down beyond a shadow of a doubt so that companies have room to innovate based on past ideas – without outright copying them. It’s hard to do, and this case should give all innovators appreciation for how challenging this task can be.
Creating a new product in a market that is already established is a tall order. Of course it makes sense to draw inspiration from products that are already out there. But your unique and special spin on it has to be enough to fully differentiate it from everything else that has come before it.
As far as Apple vs. Samsung – the closing arguments are in, but the verdict is still out. Apple wants $2.2 million and Samsung wants $6 million. It will be interesting to see what the result of this case is. Innovators – pay attention. This could affect the industry in a big way, and it could change the way patents are created and assigned.