Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 14th Oct 2011 19:05 UTC
Legal Yes, I'm hearing you guys - time to tone down a bit on the patent news. Hence, a summary here of recent developments concerning the various legal cases between Samsung and Apple. Today in The Netherlands, the judge ruled [Dutch] that Samsung will not be able to block the iPhone/iPad from the Dutch market. In the meantime, the Australian courts upheld the preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1, while the American courts ruled that while the Tab indeed infringes upon Apple's design patents, Apple has not yet convinced the judge that that actually matters. Tying this all together with earlier rulings we already covered - it seems like judges across the world are really, really willy-nilly. Update: DailyTech has some detailed visual comparisons between Samsung's and Apple's devices, as well with the various design patents. Huh. You don't say.
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RE[4]: The real loser...
by Neolander on Sat 15th Oct 2011 20:41 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: The real loser..."
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Then you have an issue with a need to reform patent laws. You ought not take issue with the litigating company. It's not as if Apple's iPad was an unknown entity. With that said, any company who goes to the effort of creating a product to the degree that Samsung did they ought to also become familiar with the laws that may restrict them. When you consider that Samsung specifically used Apple's product as the model to duplicate their risk was known beforehand.

Again, I don't think that taking inspiration from other's design to iteratively innovate on top of it is wrong. Sure, the guy who came up with the design first should get financial retribution, this is what patents are about. But full device bans are pure madness.

A long time ago, in the 70s-80s, a team of engineers from Apple was invited to see what was going on at Xerox PARC, thought "Well, this is great.", and decided to build a consumer product based on Xerox' user interface. Should Xerox have been able to get Apple's product banned, so that they keep their monopoly on the GUI business ? I don't think so. Should Xerox have made Apple pay in some way for use of their ideas ? Well, why not, and I believe that's what happened in the end.

This may be a fundamental disagreement between you and me, though.

"Strong innovation can only exist when people are building their stuff on top of each other's work."

Agreed yet Samsung didn't need to mimic so exactly their competitor.

I am very happy that the people at Asus who designed the laptop which I'm currently using didn't randomly swap keyboard keys to avoid mimicking exactly their competitor's keyboard layout. Or put the power button somewhere under the machine instead of putting it on the right hand side above the keyboard. Or put the USB connectors on top of the screen and the webcam and microphone in the bottom.

Some things are better left as de facto standards, as far as usability is concerned, even if it means that a few royalties will be paid during a reasonable period of time. Innovation battles should rather occur on things which are not de facto standards yet. Like SD card slots, USB ports, ability to install software that doesn't come from the manufacturer's App Store.

"should Apple have kept their ridiculous modal notification system in iOS 5, instead of copying Android's superior non-obtrusive notification system ?"

That question assume that copying an end-goal is the same as duplicating a product or service. Apple created a service that results in the same task achieved as that which google provides. They didn't infringe on software patents or interface concepts etc.

They implemented non-obtrusive notifications in pretty much the same way as Android does, to the best of my knowledge. Popups coming from the top of the screen, slide from the top to get the full deal. Notifications also exist on the lock screen, where you can slide again to get direct access to the notification's source.

It shouldn't matter whether this way of doing things is patented or not. Someone at Google came up with a great new way of doing notifications. People at Samsung (bada) and Apple (iOS) thought "Hey, this is great !" and incorporated it in their own OS as an almost verbatim copy (with only minor changes in each implementation, which are pretty much a matter of taste). Overall, user experience of mobile operating systems has improved.

If Google wanted to make profit when people use their notification system, they could have patented it. I don't think I have a problem with that, it doesn't sound so obvious since pretty much everyone was using stupid modal windows before. But why should other OS manufacturers be forbidden from using the latest and greatest of mobile user interfaces simply because it comes from a competitor ?

"And, for the mandatory car analogy : if a car manufacturer patented round wheels, should all other cars do with polygonal ones to avoid IP infringement ?"

Your analogy is far off the deep end in an effort to make my position look far off the deep end but yes they should create a different shape of wheel is a circular one is patented. Unlike wheels, tablets can be built in SEVERAL ways to differentiate themselves. The wheel's circular shape is the optimal design however the design of Apple's tablet isn't necessarily optimal. Why couldn't it's shape or color be optimized beyond that which APple created?

Are you seriously arguing that Apple invented rounded rectangular shapes ? Also, for color, you should have a look around you. Lots and lots of modern devices use black, white, and silver gray as their main colors, simply because it's today's neutral color scheme. Pale and yellowish grays used to be more frequent in the past, but now they induce a rather dated feeling in consumer's mind.

For a more concrete example, take computer keyboards and video games controllers. Pretty much always mostly black or white. It feels neutral and elegant, perfect for a multi-function device. I believe that only the game cube recently used something else for its controller (blue or violet), and it did feel less neutral to me, more like something made for kids (though YMMV of course).

Edited 2011-10-15 20:47 UTC

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