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Thread: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

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    Senior Member bensonga's Avatar
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    Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    I've been following the Apple vs Samsung patent battles and other patent disputes between technology companies for some time now. As a simple tech consumer, with no real knowledge of the legal or technical merits of the claims made by these companies, I'm curious to hear what folks here think.

    I know that there are lawyers, software engineers and very tech savy people here, so there must be a wealth of knowledge and opinion at GetDPI re this topic.

    I'll share a link to this op-ed piece which appeared in the LA Times today, simply to spark the discussion.

    Blame a dysfunctional patent system for Apple vs. Samsung verdict - latimes.com

    Gary

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    I actually disagree with that analysis in that there are elements of design look and feel that were patented although the product is a composite implementation of hardware and software.
    Intellectual property is the foundation of the creative economy, and that includes drugs, designs, photographs, software and so forth. Protection of those assets from theft is necessary and the combination of copyright and patent are the tools used for their protection.
    While I agree that there are many many nonsensical software patents that cover the obvious (to a software engineer) and that those patents should never have been granted in the first place, once the courts ruled that software was patentable especially those in-obvious and novel elements, it became the system of choice.
    The problem as I see it is the indiscriminate issuance of silly patents over the last 35 years. This is the fault of the patent office when they decided that due to their insufficient expertise in a number of fields, to issue the patents and then let the courts sort it out.
    The Apple v Samsung case is quite unique in that the plaintiffs were able to document a deliberate and systematic attempt to copy Apple's features and presentation in their products. The jury award was not out of line due to the volume of sales and potential Apple lost business that resulted from the deliberate act of copying.
    -bob
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Apple may have won the legal battle but this also produces more critics (me included).

    >The problem as I see it is the indiscriminate issuance of silly patents over the last 35 years.

    Very much so.
    Uwe Steinmueller
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    The Apple v Samsung case is quite unique in that the plaintiffs were able to document a deliberate and systematic attempt to copy Apple's features and presentation in their products. The jury award was not out of line due to the volume of sales and potential Apple lost business that resulted from the deliberate act of copying.
    -bob

    Thats really the bottom line.

    I do agree giving out patents for gum chewing technique is pretty silly. But deliberate attempts to copy , poach , steal or whatever you call it is wrong.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    The Apple v Samsung case is quite unique in that the plaintiffs were able to document a deliberate and systematic attempt to copy Apple's features and presentation in their products. The jury award was not out of line due to the volume of sales and potential Apple lost business that resulted from the deliberate act of copying.
    -bob

    Thats really the bottom line.

    I do agree giving out patents for gum chewing technique is pretty silly. But deliberate attempts to copy , poach , steal or whatever you call it is wrong.
    +1

    The history is quite short to trace the developments for anyone.

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    Senior Member bensonga's Avatar
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quoting from the LA Times op-ed:
    "In its briefs, Apple describes both of its devices as "a rectangular product with four evenly rounded corners, a flat clear face covering the front of the product, a large display screen under the clear surface … and a matrix of colorful square icons with evenly rounded corners," etc., and alleges that Samsung copied these "distinctive" features."

    Really? A patent on the "distinctive features" of a rectangular product with four evenly rounded corners etc etc? At first glance, this just seems ludicrous to me.

    Personally, I wonder how we ever got to a place where a company can patent the "look and feel" of something.

    Gary
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    My son would not consider any of his 19 patents (according to a google search) silly. A lot of research, work, prototypes, and testing went into all of those patents. The United States (and, for that matter, the world) benefits from innovation and intellectual progress from forward thinkers and the incremental improvements they produce. And, by the way, a court of law agreed with me.

    Greg

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    "The San Jose jury seemed blindly to accept Apple's position that customers routinely walked out of electronics stores with Samsung phones, confused into thinking they'd bought iPhones."

    Was there evidence to support this claim? It seems pretty far fetched to me.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    I wonder how rounded or squared off the corners on a device have to be to violate a patent. Precise dimensions can be important I suppose. If the icons weren't exactly rounded in the same way, would that matter too? If the underlying code that created the seemingly similar rounded icons was different, would that still violate a patent? All questions for the attorneys, I know.

    It appears to me that Apple's business was founded on technology they did not invent and now they have the balls to claim the moral high ground re patents. Amazing.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Gary, I don't think your premise is accurate. The jury did not think Samsung customers were confused. They said they would not buy a Samsung phone if they did not have the features protected by the Apple patent. If no one defends their patents, why apply for a patent in the first place. You have the right to say certain patents are silly, but the proper forum for your complaint is the United States Patent Office. Oh, and by the way, good luck with that.

    Greg

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    That statement in the op-ed may well be incorrect Greg. I suppose that's part of the reason I started this thread, because there is a lot of conflicting information in the news reports I've read about this case. If Apple DID assert what the op-ed writer says, that just seems far fetched to me. I have a lot of 20 something year old nieces and nephews who have bought Android phones and I'm sure NONE of them thought they had actually bought an iPhone. Many of them would have liked to buy an iPhone (it's the cool thing to have), but couldn't afford one. I use many Apple products myself (as well as non-Apple tech products), but I've never been an Apple fanatic. I really just wonder how we've gotten to a place where patents can be granted for something like the shape of a phone etc.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by bensonga View Post
    Many of them would have liked to buy an iPhone (it's the cool thing to have), but couldn't afford one.
    That is the very essence of this battle. Why should Apple lose because someone else sells gadgets that use infringed technologies?

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    The people who prefer android to ios have always said that apple thinks their customers are too dumb to take control. Now they're saying that they're too dumb to even realise they are buying a samsung.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    No comment on the Samsung case.

    But the LA Times article says this:
    "... Dazzled by the screen display he saw at PARC, Jobs ordered the designers to put something just like it into the Lisa, and subsequently the Mac. ..."
    which leaves out an important bit of information.

    Xerox was a major investor in Apple at that time. SJ went to Xerox corporate and was granted permission to bring his engineers into the lab and use elements of the PARC design. Adele Goldberg, manager of this technology at PARC at the time, was furious about it but could not refuse her bosses' directive to allow SJ and his engineers access.

    Adele herself told me this in 1987, and it's been documented elsewhere as well. Omissions like this cause me to be very skeptical of the hype and spin on the current case promulgated by so-called news vendors like the LA Times.

    Personally, I'd rather not see a contentious debate over a patent lawsuit on this forum. There are lots of smart people here, for sure, but debating opinions based on incomplete and often misleading "information", itself mostly opinion and hype, as presented by articles such as this leads mostly to bad feelings and incorrect conclusions.
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by bensonga View Post
    I really just wonder how we've gotten to a place where patents can be granted for something like the shape of a phone etc.
    I don't make the laws nor am I defending them, but things like button placement can be patented from what I understand. I worked in the camera manufacturing business and there are design features that can be protected. It is a big deal. Industries work in ways that have nothing to do with what might fall under the category of "common sense." But these field are also competitive and there is a lot of money at stake. Competitors look for any kind of advantage.

    I really don't like the folks that like to play a big shot and leak images of products. There maybe things in those images that have not been covered by patent, trademark, or copyright protections and the release of the images could have serious repercussions to the company. You can be sure the competition is trawling the internet for these photographs too.

    It is a tough world.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    As a photographer in all of us we always will want to protect our copyrights in all that we shoot, that's a given. Now if a jury determines someone poached from someone else than it is a given the right verdict was handed down. I'm not going to debate this case in particular but if the jury found this than I'm fine with the verdict as we would want the same thing. Now on patents I'm sure there are some very valid ones that where lifted to use by Samsung. My point though are some patents seem a little generic in nature to be really a patent in the first place. Let's be honest rounded corners is pretty generic and maybe the press played on that one a little too heavy when I'm sure patents that took a great deal of engineering and work are more of the case at hand here. Problem is the press will play on stuff that is really maybe not the core of the case at hand. I'm a believe 50 percent what the press says and the other 50 as selling newspaper hype.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung


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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    That Samsung is completely different: the WIFI symbol leans to the left, while Apple's is upright.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    I think Samsung will get in hot water for this one too......it still has those rounded corners.

    I appreciate all the comments here. As I had anticipated, many of you are far more knowledgeable than me on this topic. I probably should have guessed that certain aspects of patent law would not have any direct connection with a "common sense" point of view, as Sashin observed.

    Thanks again everyone for providing me with a broader perspective on this issue.

    I do hope the patent police won't be coming to confiscate my Google Nexus 7 someday. If I had to make a choice, I'd keep my iPad2 over the Nexus 7, but it has been really interesting to see the differences between an iOS and Android device, first hand. I like having choices in life.

    Gary

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    >I do hope the patent police won't be coming to confiscate my Google Nexus 7 someday. If I had to make a choice, I'd keep my iPad2 over the Nexus 7, but it has been really interesting to see the differences between an iOS and Android device, first hand. I like having choices in life.

    I have both too. The Nexus 7 is my portfolio presenter on the road (camera bag). The moment I got the iPad I wanted a 7" one. Apple at that time made jokes about 7" tablets. Hope the they don't violate copyright if they bring the iPad Mini (very unlikely I will get that, the Nexus is very nice for me).
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    I like the Nexus 7 a lot too.

    Since other companies came out with a 7 inch tablet BEFORE Apple (with the rumored release of an iPad mini in October), I would HOPE that Apple can't obtain a patent on a 7 inch tablet now and then force Samsung, Google etc to pull their tablets off the market.

    On the other hand, maybe Steve Jobs secretly had Apple's lawyers obtain an obscure, but expansive patent on a small tablet, while lulling his competitors into complacency with his derisive comments about the same. Then, after Samsung, Google etc have invested big $$$ in design, manufacturing etc....Kaboom! Apple drops the hammer and walks away a winner again.

    Gary

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    If you watch this from the distance then all of this is either funny like hell or very sad. Don't want to know what only these legal battles cost. Great entertainment with very little substance for all of us.
    Uwe Steinmueller
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Honestly, I give Apple a lot of credit. They've succeeded in ways that Microsoft could only dream of now. They make some incredible products. Top notch.

    And they have the best attorneys money can buy. Whether the it's in the area of patent law or tax evasion, Apple is world class.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/bu....html?emc=eta1

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    This may backfire on Apple. Here's a view I believe is typical for how Asians see the verdict:

    Asia Sentinel - America's Out-of-Control Patent Laws

    Outside USA, it's difficult to find people who share American lawyers' views on copyright and patent. 95% of the world population lives outside USA, and they mostly have increasing buying power.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    And here lies a problem, patent laws, like copyright, are regional. Technology in the internet age is not. Giving up sovereignty over anything is not considered in the national interest. Laws are design to protect the powerful more than the weak. If you want an interesting read, read Amazon's agreement for their cloud hosting--and this is not unique to Amazon. You will give up copyright over everything you post there and Amazon will cooperate with any government agency if they need to access your files. If Amazon is sued in relation to your files, frivolous or not, they will pass on the legal bills--I don't think they have cheap lawyers. Amazon has covered its @$$.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    The verdict in this case was delivered by a jury and not some lawyers. Also, it is preposterous to imply that Samsung or anyone else can not afford to hire the "best" lawyers.

    Patent laws are there to govern innovations/novelty and not the rich!

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Patent laws are there to govern innovations/novelty and not the rich!
    Well, you as an individual, try taking a large corporation to trial over patent infringement--they will simply outspend you. You will also find the laws will also bias corporations over individuals in regards to protections. You may think patents over the human genome are good for large medical corporations, but don't you find it odd that someone can patent something found in nature? But then the medical companies are not in business for their health.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    The Apple v Samsung case is quite unique in that the plaintiffs were able to document a deliberate and systematic attempt to copy Apple's features and presentation in their products.
    Not only that, but Apple had shared these elements with Samsung under NDA as part of the design documentation provided to Samsung, to manufacture Apple phones. Samsung then turned around and made their own product which freely stole from Apple's design documentation.

    This is actually one of the greatest risks in having your products manufactured in Asia - they'll rip off your designs and go make their own. A small startup would go bankrupt since it lacks the means to litigate, but in this case Samsung f*cked with the wrong guys. I can only applaud Apple for standing up for what's right!

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    >Samsung then turned around and made their own product which freely stole from Apple's design documentation.

    THat is an important point and I did not know they did (did not read all these long articles).
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    My take is that patents are important and as someone who has only owned "smartphones" since 2003, I'd say Apple is a bit liberal in literature in what they've created. I have never owned an iPhone because it simply was a joke until iOS4 was released (I have owned the last 2 generations of iPads and I've been Mac exclusive at home since 2004.) What they have done is make smartphones accessible to the average person but this lawsuit is somewhat frivolous in the way they were trying to sue for other companies using the term "app" as if they created the mobile application. I can't say that I've ever confused an iPhone for a Treo, Blackberry, HTC, Motorola, or Samsung phone. For one most of the high end Android phones have much larger screens and haptic feedback buttons on the bottom. All slate style phones look similar but I can't say that Apple was the first to release a slate style phone in the market at this point.

    In reality I'm sure there is some fault on both sides (there usually is) and I think most of the international courts that have ruled are showing this. If Samsung was smart they would've pushed to have the trial done outside of California if possible.
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Well, you as an individual, try taking a large corporation to trial over patent infringement--they will simply outspend you. You will also find the laws will also bias corporations over individuals in regards to protections.
    I discuss more cases in a year than many. It is not a question money.

    There are some basics to establish novelty and prior art. No amount of money could rewrite that.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung


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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Good design is always simple and obvious. Which leads to the question why no one did it before? The answer is it's only obvious in hindsight.

    It's like photographers who when faced with a good photograph wonders what's special about it, they could have shot this (then they dutifully proceed to go out and mimic it). Yet they didn't. Why? Because they're poor photographers.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

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    Last edited by ustein; 25th September 2012 at 15:43.
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    I believe originally patents came into existance to protect inventions made by inventors against theft. What the modern industry has made out of it is simply a joke, a hype out of control. If you can patent the shape of a rounded rectangle then what comes next? I remember once a designer called an egg-holder eiPott, which is German language and means simply egg holder. Apple filed a case that the phonetic similarity between eiPott and ipad is too close. Court decided that the egg-holder can not be called eiPott.
    Good bye sanity, but I am also asking myself how insecure the people at Apple must be to come up with such ideas.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Apple has apparently copied the design of the station clocks of the Swiss State Railway (SBB) for the clock in iOS6. The original design was made by Hans Hilfiker in 1944 and is manufactured by watchmaker Mobatime. A wristwatch with the same design, made by Mondaine, is also available.

    The Swiss clock to the right, Apple's copy to the left:



    If I was Apple, I would be very, very embarrased to put it mildly.
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    Contributing Editor ustein's Avatar
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    >If I was Apple, I would be very, very embarrased to put it mildly.

    They only care if others copy.
    Uwe Steinmueller
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Apple has apparently copied the design of the station clocks of the Swiss State Railway (SBB) for the clock in iOS6. The original design was made by Hans Hilfiker in 1944 and is manufactured by watchmaker Mobatime. A wristwatch with the same design, made by Mondaine, is also available.

    The Swiss clock to the right, Apple's copy to the left:



    If I was Apple, I would be very, very embarrased to put it mildly.
    Did they infringe on any valid patents?

    How many make Leica M mount cameras and lenses? It is allowed because the M mount patents have expired. This is the way the laws are setup and work.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Did they infringe on any valid patents?

    How many make Leica M mount cameras and lenses? It is allowed because the M mount patents have expired. This is the way the laws are setup and work.
    The design is copyrighted, but for all I know, it may be expired. The Swiss won't let it pass though.

    However, the way Apple is chasing Samsung for making a mobile phone with a similar shape to theirs, they should step very carefully, not so much for legal reasons as for their creative reputation. They live from their creative innovations, and when they're caught copying an established design, they reduce the value of their own brand.
    Things I sell: https://www.shutterstock.com/g/epixx?language=en
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    The thread is about (as I understood) patent violations. If a Swiss clock copyright is violated by Apple, we would hear it.

    I am not sure about the purpose of the insinuations.

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    Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung


    I see no insinuation

    I see an illustration

    and it does look like an inspiration
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    The thread is about (as I understood) patent violations. If a Swiss clock copyright is violated by Apple, we would hear it.

    I am not sure about the purpose of the insinuations.
    It's all intellectual property, an area where Apple seems to claim to be above others, both when it comes to genius and integrity. Me thinks their legal department is becoming more important than their design department. If I were Sir Jonathan, I would be slightly worried.
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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    It's all intellectual property, an area where Apple seems to claim to be above others, both when it comes to genius and integrity. Me thinks their legal department is becoming more important than their design department. If I were Sir Jonathan, I would be slightly worried.
    Jony Ive (re)designed the Swiss clock?

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Jony Ive (re)designed the Swiss clock?
    No, the company where he's head of the design department wasn't creative enough to design their own clock, so they copied another one.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Now, Samsung sue Apple over iphone5 (among others):

    BBC News - Samsung adds iPhone 5 to its patent battle with Apple

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    "No, the company where he's head of the design department wasn't creative enough to design their own clock, so they copied another one."

    Apple's really missing the boat here: rather than relying of such weak sisters as Ive, they should just ask the design experts here what their products, and especially their clocks, should look like. Perhaps the hands could turn counter-clockwise; that would really be an innovation.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Did they infringe on any valid patents?
    Yes - the Swiss Railway clock is a protected design.

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    Re: Patent disputes....aka Apple vs Samsung

    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    Apple's really missing the boat here: rather than relying of such weak sisters as Ive, they should just ask the design experts here what their products, and especially their clocks, should look like. Perhaps the hands could turn counter-clockwise; that would really be an innovation.
    Not really -- though they're mostly done for novelty, clocks and watches with hands that turn counter-clockwise have been made off and on for years (my dad did clock repair as a hobby, and I can remember one he fixed, probably over 40 years ago).

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