4 min read

Apple: Samsung Copied iPhone, iPad

Samsung denies charges as day two of infringement trial sees opening statements and first Apple witness.
New iPad Teardown: Inside Apple's Tablet
New iPad Teardown: Inside Apple's Tablet
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
As for the charge that Samsung violated Apple's patent covering the act of enlarging an image by double-touching it, Verhoeven disagreed again. Prior art, or previously invented uses of the practice, exist in both Microsoft and HP products, he said. They weren't the commercial success of the iPhone, but commercial success doesn't entitle Apple to claim that it invented something that it did not, Verhoeven said. "This patent issued to Apple is not valid," he concluded.

Verhoeven didn't deny that Samsung studied and duplicated some features of the iPhone. "Being inspired by a good product is not copying. It's competition, people competing with each other. There's nothing wrong with that," he said.

Samsung is a key supplier to Apple. Twenty-six percent of the iPhone is built using Samsung components, a situation that is expected to continue, regardless of the outcome of the trial. Under an avalanche of charges that Samsung copies rather than innovates on its own, Verhoeven responded that Samsung employs 1,000 of its own designers. It designs both components and its own products. It must be able to innovate on its own, if Apple keeps buying its products for its devices, he asserted.

Apple called the first of what is likely to be many witnesses in the case to buttress its claims. Stringer, an Apple designer for 17 years, took the stand wearing a cream-colored suit that contrasted with his shoulder-length brown hair, goatee, and mustache. Amid all the lawyers' pinstripes, most observers, if asked which individual in the courtroom was the Apple designer, would have been able to pick him out.

On the stand, he showed that he could talk the talk as well. Apple maintains that it has sole rights to iPhone-style (and iPad) designs because the devices are unique, "revolutionary," and the result solely of its own original work. McElhinny sought to elicit from Stringer how Apple came about such creative designs.

After reviewing sketches and CAD drawings of early iPhone ideas, McElhinny asked him how he settled on a particular version. The design process was filled with many false starts and attempts to combine just the right details, he said. "It was the most beautiful of our designs. The world had never seen anything like this."

The design team was released from concerns about manufacturability of the device or combinations of materials. "We came up with some things that were breathtakingly beautiful. ... We had a long list of challenges to overcome to make it work. We were using glass in close proximity to the metal. We were drilling holes in close proximity to the glass. We insisted on this high polish steel band around the product. It was incredibly hard to polish."

The design team opted for a flat surface, with the glass meeting a piece of curved metal around the rim of the face with no overlap and little gap.

Apple lavished similar care on the user interface. "We wanted to make a device that was breathtakingly simple, something very easy to understand, something that you just wanted to pick up and use."

"It felt like an entirely new thing," he concluded.

Under cross examination, Verhoeven asked him if he had seen the similar Samsung designs. Stringer answered that he might have. "Did you see a design with four soft buttons at the bottom," Verhoeven persisted. Stringer answered that he might have, he wasn't sure.

"Did you think it was beautiful?" asked Verhoeven.

"Well," said Stringer, "it didn't stick in my mind."

Android and Apple devices make backup a challenge for IT. Look to smart policy, cloud services, and MDM for answers. Also in the new, all-digital Mobile Device Backup issue of InformationWeek: Take advantage of advances that simplify the process of backing up virtual machines. (Free with registration.)