updated 08:13 pm EDT, Mon July 30, 2012
Latest in string of Samsung requests denied by judge
Samsung saw yet another procedural setback today at the opening of its trial against Apple in US District Court in San Francisco. An attempt by Samsung to frame an early iPhone prototype labeled "Jony" by Apple designers as copied from Sony -- thereby implying that stealing designs is okay if others do it also -- has been quashed. Samsung will not be permitted to present exhibits to the jury that allege Apple was inspired by Sony. Apple produced design documents from an earlier prototype also resembling the iPhone 4 design but without the Sony influence, demonstrating to the judge that the iPhone design process was done completely in-house.
The prototype from 2006 that Samsung wanted to present strongly resembles the iPhone 4, and was developed by Apple designer Shin Nishibori who had been asked by Tony Fadell, the then-iDevice chief, to specifically design an iPhone that was influenced by the Sony design ethos for presentation to CEO Steve Jobs. The phone as designed does not draw any direct design cues from any shipped Sony product.
The introduction of an earlier version of the prototype showed that the "Sony-ized" version was another option based upon Apple's own original work. Samsung's seizing on the Sony-style prototype as a possible defence has been interpreted by some as a tacit admission that the company set out to copy Apple's designs.
Apple has already had two wins with the court in the last few hours before the court case commencement. In the first, jurors are required to be advised that Samsung had destroyed evidence that the court had ordered it produce. In the second ruling, Apple is allowed to present slides in its opening argument featuring Steve Jobs, despite Samsung's protestations that the photos were 'gratuitous' and attempting to turn the trial into a popularity contest.
Samsung was also forced to release documents which show its own employees commenting on the similarities between Samsung's products and Apple's. Another set of documents Samsung would have rather not seen the light of day -- and were earlier sealed -- show Best Buy alerting Samsung that a number of customers had returned their tablets because they incorrectly thought they had bought iPads.
2006 'Jony' Apple case prototype
2005 'Purple' design, predating 'Jony'