Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Aug 2012 22:14 UTC
Legal "The web has been alight these past few weeks with the details of the Apple v. Samsung lawsuit. It's been a unique opportunity to peer behind the curtain of how these two companies operate, as the trial seeks to answer the question: did Samsung copy Apple? But there's actually another question that I think is much more interesting to the future of innovation in the technology industry: regardless of whether the courts say that Samsung copied Apple or not, would we all be better off if we allowed - even encouraged - companies to copy one another?" This is very relevant.
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No, we would not be better off.
by tbutler on Tue 21st Aug 2012 04:32 UTC
tbutler
Member since:
2005-07-06

I think software patents are out of control, yes, but I don't see how someone who blatantly copies as much as Samsung does really helps innovation by that copying. I remember the first time I tried the Galaxy Tab 7. The mail application had the EXACT same icon layout at the iPad -- every function on the toolbar was in the same order. The colors were similar. And, of course, some of the home screen icons enjoyed Samsung's love of mimicking Apple icons. If Samsung took Apple's ideas and made something different and better, that's one thing. If Samsung simply uses Apple's research on user interfaces to avoid having to come up with its own, I think that's a different matter. "Helpful copying" should produce something clearly distinct.

Take icons like the infamous handset on a green backdrop or the musical note on top of a CD with a blue backdrop. While these are clear ways to represent a given function, even within the bounds of a relatively square icon, there are probably dozens of different ways to do the same thing well. Why exactly copy Apple? What about a yellow phone icon to harken back to the Yellow Pages? Or a Blue one to allude to Ma Bell, or... What about a stick figuring singing into a microphone for a music app? Or a musical note without the "antiquated" CD? What about a phonograph ala the one the RCA dog "hears his master's voice" in? And is there anything necessarily blue about music players other than that iTunes has had a blue note icon since iTunes 5.0?

The point being while Apple made design decisions that are intuitive, they aren't the only intuitive options, nor were they the default Android options even...

Reply Score: -2

Radio Member since:
2009-06-20

I remember the first time I tried the Galaxy Tab 7. The mail application had the EXACT same icon layout at the iPad -- every function on the toolbar was in the same order. The colors were similar.

Oh, the horror!

Take icons like the infamous handset on a green backdrop or the musical note on top of a CD with a blue backdrop. While these are clear ways to represent a given function, even within the bounds of a relatively square icon, there are probably dozens of different ways to do the same thing well. Why exactly copy Apple?
Oh yeah. Like, Apple are the first to associate a lifted handset with the color green. Because that was never done before. Genius! Who would have though of associating an icon representing a physical part of a phone, with the color associated with "ok", "start", "go"! No other phone maker did that before, right? It is only after Apple spent billions of dollar of UX research that they made this great insight in intuitive design, right?

Reply Parent Score: 9

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

I think the point the chap was trying to make that it was almost a complete rip-off.

Say what you want about Metro, Unity and Gnome 3 ... at least they are attempting to do something different.

I haven't used a recent Android Device, so I won't comment on whether it does or not. However the OP obviously thinks it does.

If what the OP said was true, forgetting about patents itself ... it just shows staggering degrees of laziness and IMO just plagiarism.

Reply Parent Score: 2

tbutler Member since:
2005-07-06

Why would you want to defend exact copying? The point the original article was trying to make had to do with how Samsung's copying was beneficial. I don't see how exactly copying something is beneficial to anyone. Let's see competitors do their own spins on things rather than making cheap "KIRF" designs -- that'll actually cause innovation.

Note that Samsung didn't associate Green and a Phone, they picked the same sort of silhouette of a phone and set it on a green background. What about a gray background with a green handset? Or a different style of handset? The point is, there are lots of ways to design the icon, Samsung picked to essentially mirror Apple's icon, other many other manufacturers have not.

There isn't any real reason to suspect that Samsung would have come up with that same icon had Apple not designed it first. In some flavors, Samsung's icon even had diagonal stripes behind the handset, just like Apple. Some copying is logical, yes, but at some point you cross the line from "this is the most logical thing to do" to "this is just because we don't feel like coming up with something of our own."

This sort of reminds me of Hyundai-Kia's penchant about a decade ago of copying other makes of cars. One model looked a lot like a Jaguar, another was a riff on a Saab. Many of the design ideas where obvious enough that you could say "well, of course they'd use chrome in that way or slope the roof that way, it's obvious!", and yet no other manufacturer needed to do it to make a decent car. It didn't help innovation, but it did manage to tarnish formerly premium design elements. Thankfully, at some point they stopped doing that and started making some really nice looking cars on their own right. Now, instead of being a cheap knockoff maker, it isn't uncommon for people to talk about how, say, the Sonata has a nicer design than its nearest competitors.

I'd like to see Samsung learn something from its compatriot. Once it does, then we will see more innovation. I'd wager this even: many of the things Samsung has copied from Apple are things that some other design could be better than Apple's. Why not find that better design option by doing real R&D?

Reply Parent Score: 0

phoudoin Member since:
2006-06-09

Take icons like the infamous handset on a green backdrop or the musical note on top of a CD with a blue backdrop. While these are clear ways to represent a given function, even within the bounds of a relatively square icon, there are probably dozens of different ways to do the same thing well. Why exactly copy Apple?


Big news: the musical note symbol wasn't invented by Apple but by... Solf├Ęge notation.

Big News 2: not everything was invented by Apple. Not even most icons.

What about a yellow phone icon to harken back to the Yellow Pages? Or a Blue one to allude to Ma Bell,


Welcome to America: not everybody live there, and their *yellow pages* are not necessary yellow color-themed, and their historical phone company is not necessary blue-color-themed.

Hence the need to find a *world-wide* symbol for the same function.


a musical note without the "antiquated" CD?


The musical note is far more antiquated than the optical disc, actually. And only the later carrier the digital meaning.

What about a phonograph ala the one the RCA dog "hears his master's voice" in?


Love that one. One simple answer: trademark infrigment.
How ironic that trying that it's still possible to not mimic existing design you fall yourself in the IP trap...

And is there anything necessarily blue about music players other than that iTunes has had a blue note icon since iTunes 5.0?


Huh? I though that what was troubling regarding Samsung vs iPhone icons was the *purple* music player icon.

Oh well.
Let's patent colors.
And, next, letters.

Everyday, pro-patents are inventing... another reason to *not* respect patent system.
Well done, guys.

Reply Parent Score: 7

tbutler Member since:
2005-07-06

I think your reply shows exactly what I was critiquing. I didn't say no one else could use a musical note, for example. But, the particular arrangement of a particular musical note overlaid on a CD is something that is specifically related to iTunes. Why not use a different note? Or skip the CD? That was my point. The phonograph reference was intended to be ironic.

(Oh, and while a CD is a dying technology, a musical note isn't, so I think a CD is antiquated whereas a musical note is not. Antiquated implies it is outdated, not just old.)

Reply Parent Score: 0