Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Apr 2011 21:29 UTC
Legal Well. Raise your hands if you didn't see this one coming. Nobody is safe from Apple's and Microsoft's legal crusade against Android, not even Samsung, which supplies a lot of chips to Apple. Apple has sued Samsung for copying Cupertino's look and feel in various Samsung devices. This is about as surprising as the tides rolling in. Update: And Samsung's going to strike back. Hit 'm hard, Samsung. I don't like you anymore than any of these other patent trolls, but maybe we'll finally see it all crash and burn.
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I'm no fan of software patents, but design patents have their place. Protecting the physical and visual design of products is simply an extension of trademarking.

I have to say I do not agree with that at all. I have all the same issues with them as with any other patent when applied to software. Design patents for physical/ tangible objects make some sense, but not for software.

I'm growing very tired of Apple's shenanigans, but in their defense, I'm going to buck the trend and assert that Samsung has in fact intentionally copied the iPhone look and feel. I mean, seriously. They've tried to clone it in what seems like a shameless attempt to deceive a naive customer into thinking it is the same thing.

The problem with that is I don't believe any person with that level of naivety exists. Even if they did, any one can easily point out their error by flipping over the device and pointing at the Samsung logo... Sure, the GUI for the software "looks" very similar to iOS in many respects, but is that because they are trying to make it look the same to confuse users?

Maybe what they are trying to do is leverage the fact that many users will already be familiar with the interface paradigms that iOS uses, and feel that making their interface look and act nearly the same is a benefit because it make the device instantly familiar to their users who came from iOS. Everyone does with with UIs, even Microsoft and Apple themselves - it is a process of refinement and it should not be allowed to be co-opted by a single company. Virtually every desktop GUI in existence is still based on the very same interface paradigms that Xerox Star used over 30 years ago, even iOS in some respects.

Regardless, icon spacing and placement and whatnot should not be considered "branding". Trademark law covers branding (covers it too broadly in fact) - you don't need design patents to protect branding. And if it isn't branding you are protecting then what is the point?

Google themselves have a design patent on the design of their search site. You can bet that they would exercise it if another search site adopted Google's visual style in a way that could mislead users into thinking they were viewing Google.

And I would be just as pissed about it if they did. In fact more so, because frankly there is literally nothing about Google's search layout that is even remotely connected to branding outside of their logo. Really, I do not see how anyone could reasonably see a legal problem with making a site that looks exactly the same as Google's, as long as the logo is not used. The entire notion is stupid on its face. Its a search box and a list of results! Really, back before 1996 (pre-Google), you had Alta Vista, Infoseek, Yahoo, WebCrawler, etc. Virtually all of them presented result pages 15+ years ago that looked nearly identical to what Google uses today, minus the logos...

This particular issue is a bit of a distraction from the real clusterf*ck that is the software/process patent warfare going on right now.

Same exact problem if you ask me, but to each there own...

Edited 2011-04-21 17:26 UTC

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