By Harry McCracken | Monday, April 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm
Do Samsung products such as its Galaxy S phones and Galaxy Tab tablets imitate Apple’s iPhone and iPad? Yes, of course they do. So, to greater and lesser extents, do nearly every smartphone and slate-type computing device on the market today. Is that legal? I guess we’ll find out: Apple is suing Samsung, saying that it’s violating multiple patents and trademarks.
I haven’t seen Apple’s suit, but it sounds like it relates to look-and-feel issues more than do most of the umpteen lawsuits that tech companies have filed against each other recently. In a statement to All Things Digital’s Ina Fried, an Apple spokesperson even complained about the boxes that Samsung products come in being too Apple-esque:
It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging,. This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.
If Apple has a case, you gotta wonder who else it’ll sue and where all this ends. HP’s upcoming TouchPad tablet, for instance, is promising–but it’s even more strikingly iPad-like than Samsung’s tablets to date. Is it vulnerable? And given that Archos is just about the only company that can honestly say it would be making tablets even if the iPad had never existed, does Apple have a legally-justified beef against the entire category?
I’ve always been made uneasy when one company unimaginatively cribs another’s designs–when I attended Mobile World Congress 2009 it felt like a blur of faux iPhones–but I don’t like the idea of one company essentially having a monopoly on a product category or a form factor. More thoughts to come as details emerge, but for now, what’s your take?