updated 03:51 pm EDT, Tue July 31, 2012
Samsung defends design concepts as predating Apple
Apple and Samsung have each completed opening statements in their US trial, which officially began yesterday. A lawyer for Apple, Harold McElhinny, began by showing slides of Samsung phones from 2006 and comparing them against models released in 2010. The crux of the trial, he stated, will be how Samsung devices changed so radically in that time, Apple's argument being that Samsung simply stole design ideas from the iPhone, which debuted in 2007. "As we all know it is easier to copy than to innovate. Apple had already taken the risks," said McElhinny.
The attorney also referred to internal Samsung documents revealing that the company felt the iPhone presented major design challenges, and that the device would be "easy to copy." Still another document, from a Samsung executive, indicated that the iPhone had created an internal "crisis of design."
Samsung attorney Charles Verhoeven challenged Apple's position as simplistic. "There’s more to the story than what you just heard," he said. Verhoeven observed that there were phones predating the iPhone that had a similar design with large rectangular screens, such as the LG Prada, which shipped in 2006. He also contended that there's a difference between commercial success and inventing a concept, one given example being an HP and Fidler tablet made years before the iPad that nevertheless used a large rectangular screen and rounded corners.
Elaborating, the lawyer noted that Samsung had made some large rectangular phones before the iPhone, and continues to make some non-rectangular ones now. "Unlike Apple that makes only one kind of phone, Samsung makes all kinds of phones for all kinds of people," he said. He attributes the shift towards large rectangular screens as an industry-wide trend made possible by technology and satisfying demand for activities like watching movies on the go.
The iPhone did inspire the industry and competition, according to Verhoeven. "Everybody does it in the commercial marketplace. There's nothing wrong with that," he explained. He went on to say that Samsung has been in the mobile industry since 1991, well before Apple, and between 2005 and 2010 spent $35 billion in research and development, and is employing over 20,000 engineers and 1,000 designers. "Samsung is not some copyist," he said. "Samsung is a major technology company that develops its own innovations."
He moreover pointed out that the memory and processor in the iPhone are supplied by Samsung. "Clearly Apple thinks Samsung invented something." Apple is also said to have been inspired by Sony, something Verhoeven illustrated with an email from Richard Howarth to Apple's senior designer, Jonathan Ive. Samsung has been barred from showing other Sony-linked evidence in the trial.