Legal action is always the last resource many companies use in order to claim what they feel is rightfully their own. We all remember the late Steve Jobs on stage for the launch of the original iPhone back in 2007. One of his memorable phrases when finishing his announcement of Apple’s new multi-touch technology was: “and boy have we patented it!”
Now that said, we know Apple didn’t invent multi-touch. We even talked about the whole process in this week’s podcast. What Apple did do, is precisely what Steve Jobs said, they did patent it in the same way Thomas Edison took most of Nikola Tesla’s glory. As Steve Jobs would always quote Picasso: “Good artists copy, great artists steal”.
In the same line of Picasso, let’s just start by being honest here, Samsung did behave like a “good artist”. As we also discussed in our podcast, Samsung did copy Apple. For those of us that owned the Samsung BlackJack line, it was clear that their design changes dramatically with the launch of the iPhone. As we unboxed the Samsung Galaxy S, it was clear that it looked like the iPhone 3GS. As Brandon unboxed the Galaxy S II, he even mentioned how it looked “too much like the iPhone 4”. And for those of you that saw the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the rest is history. At times when the Gingerbread app tray scrolled vertically, the Galaxy line scrolled horizontally. At times when the icons were all different, Samsung made them rounded squares like iOS always did. Samsung’s design has clearly evolved today with the Galaxy S III, but there’s no denying that their past was filed with Apple envy.
Whether Apple had a right to claim their designs is still something a Jury will decide soon, but I’ve begun to consider that no matter who wins, Apple lost the most. Here’s why:
This trial killed Apple’s secrecy
We all know how Apple goes to great lengths to conceal their secret weapons as they build them. The problem with going to trial is that the court is entitled to all your stuff, and that includes the secret stuff. Apple loves to prototype lots of options for just one product in order to judge it by how it feels in the hand, and well, this trial made it an obligation for Apple to release all these prototypes.
We got to see early versions of the iPad, the many variants that the iPhone had. We even got to see that the design of the current-generation iPhone existed since its inception, but was probably postponed because the technology might’ve not been ready to produce it.
Let’s just say that all of us in the tech world had a feast with all these “controlled leaks”, and well, I’m sure the Cupertino gang isn’t celebrating this.
This trial showed us how Apple works
If you had a shot at learning how the most valuable company of all time works, wouldn’t you want it? The trial also made it an obligation for Apple’s team to come under oath and share their strategy in building products. Who would’ve thought that a simple kitchen with a couple of bright minds and specific goals is what it took to build the iPad that you’re reading this editorial on?
Apple is a complete contradiction to the rest of the companies in the world. I’m citing our recent podcast again, but this is another topic we talked about. How these competing companies worried about becoming huge corporations with culture and a business administrator as CEO, where Apple is just interested in behaving like a start-up. This trial was the key for all of us to learn how this works, and to be honest with you, it’s quite refreshing to know that building such a company is humanly possible.
This trial proves that the patent system is flawed
As the jury was shown different aspects of a specific patent, like for example “double-tap to zoom”, it was clear that the patent system is too broad. There were tons of cases where it was proven that there were products in the past that could do the same things that Apple has patented. As a result, Apple did lose a lot of ground when some of these patents were proven “un-original”.
The bottom line
I honestly don’t care who wins. I hate this trial, but I love the reasons why it exists. Samsung was bold enough to copy a lot of what Apple copied anyways. They have pushed the limit and have become the largest mobile device manufacturer in the world through it. As a result, we as consumers have all benefited from their innovations.
I do have to hand it to Apple for also being bold enough to release products nobody believed in, and turning them into the most successful smartphone and tablet sold in history. There is Samsung design before the iPhone and iPad, and Samsung design after them.
It takes courage to defy even the toughest of technology critics with products that aren’t meant for them, but that will still be successful. A clear example is the iPad, where we all criticized Apple for building a tablet with a smartphone operating system. We all thought it would be dead on arrival, and now, we all own one. I guess Steve Jobs was right when he said “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. And I find it fascinating that Samsung was smart about it, and followed a great trend until they defeated it.
Apple has lost the most. Not only because they had to reveal their inner secrets, but because they haven’t been faster than Samsung in evolving their product.
Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments down bellow.