Samsung: Apple is a Patent Abuser, Not an Innovator

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Samsung released an internal memo to its employees on Monday, following its massive courtroom loss to Apple last week, then shared the memo on the company’s blog site. In a nutshell, Samsung said Apple is competing by abusing patent law instead of innovating.

Samsung responds to Apple patent win with public internal memoSamsung responds to Apple patent win with public internal memo

In spite of the jury’s finding that Samsung has been copying the iPhone and iPad designs with its smartphones and tablets, the company characterized Apple as a company that prefers patent litigation over innovating.

Samsung’s memo reads:

We initially proposed to negotiate with Apple instead of going to court, as they had been one of our most important customers. However, Apple pressed on with a lawsuit, and we have had little choice but to counter-sue, so that we can protect our company.

Certainly, we are very disappointed by the verdict at the US District Court for the Northern District of California (NDCA), and it is regrettable that the verdict has caused concern amongst our employees, as well as our loyal customers.

However, the judge’s final ruling remains, along with a number of other procedures. We will continue to do our utmost until our arguments have been accepted.

The NDCA verdict starkly contrasts decisions made by courts in a number of other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, and Korea, which have previously ruled that we did not copy Apple’s designs. These courts also recognized our arguments concerning our standards patents.

History has shown there has yet to be a company that has won the hearts and minds of consumers and achieved continuous growth, when its primary means to competition has been the outright abuse of patent law, not the pursuit of innovation.

We trust that the consumers and the market will side with those who prioritize innovation over litigation, and we will prove this beyond doubt.

Apple CEO Tim Cook issued his own memo where he stated, “For us this lawsuit has always been about something much more important than patents or money. It’s about values. We value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. And we do this to delight our customers, not for competitors to flagrantly copy.”

The jury found that Apple didn’t infringe on any of Samsung’s patents with its iPhone and iPad, but that Samsung consistently infringed on Apple’s patents with its mobile devices — and did so willingly. As part of its findings, the jury awarded Apple over US$1 billion in damages.

Samsung has already promised to appeal the ruling.

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21 Comments Leave Your Own

geoduck

Theft is far more abusive toward patents than anything Apple has done.

Mr. Pot, Meet Mr. Kettle.

We trust that the consumers and the market will side with those who prioritize innovation over litigation, and we will prove this beyond doubt.

They have and it ain’t Samsung

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

You are correct geoduck. The smartphone market leader in Q2 2012 that Apple trailed (significantly) was not Samsung. It was Samsung.

James G.

The patent system is sick.  It’s allowing patents on mundane, non-novel software functions that are NOT by any stretch comparable to innovative devices.  Apple holds hundreds if not thousands of patents of this description.

Apple IS a “patent abuser.”

The case against Samsung has a couple of valid points.  But it’s very thin.  The bottom line is that it comprised punitive use of a biased US legal system against a foreign competitor.

For me, Apple’s pretense of pride and principle as the basis for its actions is a real lip-curler.  Apple has done the consumer a massive disservice in service to its own billions.

As far as I’m concerned, this signals the beginning of a major decline for Apple.

ArmyofAnts

Apple is and will always be, eye candy ONLY. Their products are over priced for what you get. I have owned 2 iphones and those were the last of the Apple products in my house. Both phones I had to threaten law suits for AT&T to take back. They both were crap. First one locked up within a week of owning it, Second one, audio sucks from the ear piece. I have bought 3 Galaxy phones (Galaxy S and 2 Galaxy S III). My oldest wanted a cell phone, he is 14 and very responsible. After playing with his friends iphone, he wanted one, well, that was until he got a hold of my Samsung. I will be adding another GS3 to the list for him next month.

Apple, keep your kidish toys, I’ll play with the adults.

b9bot

Yea Apple products are kidish toys thats why Samsung copies them. So you are still buying kidish toys if that’s the case. Apple products are kidish toys that most businesses have now adopted over Blackberries. Apple Products are kidish toys that’s why most hospitals use the iPad to help child development and kids with Autism with.

I’ve had 3 kidish iPhones and they all worked just fine for me. Still have my iPhone 4 until the next one comes out.

mrmwebmax

+

Apple is and will always be, eye candy ONLY. Their products are over priced for what you get. I have owned 2 iphones and those were the last of the Apple products in my house. Both phones I had to threaten law suits for AT&T to take back. They both were crap. First one locked up within a week of owning it, Second one, audio sucks from the ear piece.

Eye candy only? Then why did Samsung go to such great lengths to outright copy “eye candy” such as on-screen icons and the “rubber band” scroll effect?

As for quality, a good measure of quality is resale value. Here is what Priconomics, a firm that keeps track of the resale value of cars, bikes, and gadgets, has to say about smartphones:

We measure depreciation by comparing a phone?s current used price to its new price (without a contract) the day it was released. We examined all iPhone models and the 70 most popular Androids and 30 most popular BlackBerry models. We split phones into five different cohorts (newly released, 1, 2, 3, and 4 year-old phones). We then calculated which phones had the best resale by cohort, as well as which platforms in aggregate tended to retain their value the most.

The highest quality phones should have the best resale values over time and crappier phones should depreciate the fastest. The evidence is clear ? the winner is the iPhone.

is-your-smartphone-a-good-investment-if-its-an-iphone-yes

NEALC5

All I have to say is this:

What would Samsung’s cell phones have looked like if the iPhone never came out?  Would the new Galaxy SIII look like it does, or would it have a hardware keyboard?

I can recall many people saying that Apple was foolish for having a pure touchscreen without keyboard.  “My Blackberry is great, can’t type on a touchscreen, etc….” blah blah.  People still complain about touchscreens and cling to their Blackberries. 

The point is that after seeing Apple’s success, Samsung went down the easiest path, and copied Apple, to stem their losses.  If the iPhone been a flop, Samsung would be making more Blackjacks.  (come to think of it, RIM sued Samesung for copying, but settled. See Samsung and RIM Settle).

Yes, consumers benefit by the copying, because we can get the copied stuff for less.  But it’s not right. Kodak copied Polaroid, lost a lawsuit to Polaroid, and had to stop producing instant film cameras.  But both Polaroid and Kodak failed to innovate and change their business model fast enough to compete with digital. Ask that guy who invented intermittent windshield wipers, only to have the auto companies steal it from him.  Did consumers benefit? Yes, they got intermittent windshield wipers.  But it wasn’t right to steal it.

Samsung and consumers will win if they can come up with DISTINCT designs, rather than closely copying their competitors.

And don’t tell me about Apple copying Xerox PARC.  Apple didn’t come out with a clone of the Xerox computer.  They did fundamental research and used the concepts in making the Mac.

Intruder

Please don’t feed the trolls.

iBagwan

Samsung deserves everything they get and more! They are known as copycats in the industry, just ask Rim. Apple met multiple times with the heads of Samsung asking them not to copy because they didn’t want it to go to court. Google even asked Samsung to change its designs because it looked too similar to Apple’s trade dress and Samsung ignored them.

No one complains when low life companies get busted doing knockoffs of designer handbags or sports shoes because they understand that they are thieves. Samsung has reduced themselves to low life thieves profiting on the backs of others. Don’t buy things from thieves, you end up with an inferior copy, it makes you look cheap and you only encourage the thieves to keep stealing…

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

So iBagwan, please tell us how you feel about the iOS Notification Center, clearly copied from Android because it’s a much better way of handling alerts than a single modal window in iOS 4.x and prior.

I don’t think Google would have care, absent Apple’s litigiousness. I think they’d be happy to have contributed something to everyone’s phone and could go on printing money as they do. It’s unknown whether they’d ever fire back unless fired upon directly. I kinda doubt it. So iPhone users, enjoy how Apple ripped, mixed, and burnt that one for you!

Terrin

It is also similar to Web OS’s Notification System. Which makes sense, considering Apple hired the Web OS notification architect. Apple also hired the creator of the Cydia jailbroken notification App MobileNotifier.

So iBagwan, please tell us how you feel about the iOS Notification Center, clearly copied from Android because it?s a much better way of handling alerts than a single modal window in iOS 4.x and prior.

Lancashire-Witch

@ NEALC5.  “Samesung”—Love it!  And your comment is, IMHO, spot on.

RonMacGuy

So iBagwan, please tell us how you feel about the iOS Notification Center, clearly copied from Android because it?s a much better way of handling alerts than a single modal window in iOS 4.x and prior.

Did google patent this?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Why do you think I brought it up? Google has a pending patent on it, much as Apple had pending patents when Google and Samsung actually implemented features that eventually were found to infringe granted patents. Filed in January, 2009.

But the point really isn’t about patent infringement. It’s about blatant copying and Apple coming up with its own ideas. Right?

RonMacGuy

Thank you, kind sir, for your answer. A pending patent is not a patent yet. If and when it becomes a patent (assuming it is deemed patentable), then we shall see exactly how much ‘copying’ there was. There is copying and there is copying, of course. Is the implementation of the concept sufficiently different enough to not fall under said pending patent? I am sure that if the patent is approved and Apple determines that they have, indeed, used someone else’s proprietary intellectual property, I am absolutely certain that they will pay the required licensing fees, just like they have with google maps until iOS6 comes out.

An individual’s opinion on ‘blatant copying’ is drastically different than a court’s determination, if it even goes that far. And, we aren’t even talking about an approved and assigned patent yet.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

So then what if Google doesn’t want to license it? What if for Google, it’s not about the money? What if it’s just about other companies inventing their own things rather than taking what Google has invested in and was a key competitive advantage for the Android platform for 2-1/2 years before Apple copied the idea?

Seriously, when Google gets this patent granted, which will probably happen within the next year given typical process time frames, why wouldn’t Google just put Apple on notice that Apple can’t copy Google’s inventions? Does the company that owns the rectangle claim that they didn’t believe Google would be granted a patent for something so obvious as notifications?

P.S. Excellent post James G. For drifting from the approved narrative, I award you “TMO troll of the month”.

Chris K

I think it is a cultural thing. Asian companies (not named Sony) have made inroads by copying others. Samsung’s pre-iPhone phones were Sony-Ericsson, Nokia and RIM knock-offs (the Blackberry knockoff was even named the Blackjack). Since these designs were less iconic than Apple’s, they didn’t have to “slavishly” copy them to compete. Also, in Asia and Europe, patents are for licensing, not litigating - so if Apple doesn’t cut a deal, they are clearly “abusing patents” in Samsung’s eyes.
Samsung KNOWS that Apple innovated with the iPhone - why else would their internal documents say “If you compare the UX [of Samsung’s phones] with the iPhone, it’s a difference between Heaven and Earth.”
Regarding “innovation”, Samsung somehow thinks that analyzing every little aspect of the iPhone in order to improve their own phones is “innovation” - not slavish copying. Thus, innovation is equated to improvement, not novelty.
In US patent law, one indication of non-obviousness is copying by others - i.e., other’s didn’t think to do it in the past, but immediately recognized it was better when they saw it.

NEALC5

What Chris K said is perfect!  In Asia, one strives to be part of the community, to be the same. Being too different is frowned upon.  So making a product similar to the market leader, but slightly better (or cheaper, bigger battery, bigger screen, etc.) is very much seen as innovation. It is how these companies and these countries grew so quickly after WWII and the Korean war. 

Look at the Korean electronics companies.  20 years ago, Lucky Goldstar had a reputation for making cheap generic and poorly made versions of Japanese products. Now they are “LG” and make high quality products.  Samsung had a similar reputation.

Their companies were built on making “close enough” versions of well established and higher priced brand name products.  Now that they are up at world-class level, that original culture can get them in trouble.

The same thing is happening now with Chinese electronics manufacturers.  However, the world is different, and the blatent copying isn’t as tolerated as it used to be, and it isn’t as hidden as it used to be.

iBagwan

When Google gets the notification patent then they can do as they please but the issue is the implementation. Of course, as everyone has observed, almost all companies copy and implement other companies good ideas. That’s part of the industry, the difference is in the implementation. Samesung was caught willfully copying. They very methodically have gone through point by point and copied Apple’s trade dress and utility.

Yes, its clear that Apple really liked the android notifications but the difference is the implementation. Where Samesung would do an exact implementation, Apple looked at a good idea and implemented it in a similar but not exact manner. They took what they liked and added what they wanted and created something that is very similar but different. THAT is why they can do it because in patent law it’s very easy to change something and not be accused of violating a patent. As long as you change it enough that it’s obviously different then it’s not infringement. Apple had to work at it to make it something a little different and that makes it at least acceptable. You can’t tell me that Google hasn’t done similar things using Apple ideas and I don’t hold Google accountable for that if they implement their own version. Google actually warned Samesung that they were too similar, what does THAT tell you? On that same subject, Google just recently took the rubber band bounce back, which the courts found Samesung infringed, out of android and Google still uses the tap to zoom and swipe to change screens. What about Game Center, is that a copy or just a similar implementation.

I don’t care if other companies are inspired to imitate. I care when a company makes billions off of the ideas and marketing of others without putting in ANY of the work.

A knock off is a knock off

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

You misunderstand patent law, iBagwan. Intention and implementation don’t matter, nor does the team your on, nor does your personal opinion matter. What matters with utility patents is if you infringe specific claims of the patent.

Knowledgeable people who’ve looked at Google’s application and examined iOS 5’s notification center note a few things. One is that infringement is obvious and pretty much unavoidable. Another is that there have been no amendments to the application in 3 years, which indicates that (more likely) the PTO hasn’t sent back any suggestions to expedite or increase chances of approval (or prior art discovered, etc.) or (less likely) Google could give a rat’s ass and is going all or none on this.

P.S. Google took bounce back out when it shipped Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). That shipped about 2 years ago. Not terribly recent. And on that subject, I’ve mentioned it before, but check out the latest Firefox for Android. They’re not shy about using bounce back at all. What do you think Apple should do about that? Sue a very popular American non-profit? After all, this is a feature they don’t even want to license!

I’m pretty sure the blatant hypocrisy and populist nationalism bordering on veiled racism of piling on with “Samsung and Koreans are copycats” will come back to bite Apple fans in the ass. It’s one thing to say, “we won a judgement because they infringed these patents” in an environment of near zero scrutiny by the PTO. It’s another to attach a moral component to something everyone is doing because it’s unavoidable.

RonMacGuy

P.S. Excellent post James G. For drifting from the approved narrative, I award you ?TMO troll of the month?.

Careful with the personal attacks, Brad.  Or was that a compliment?

So then what if Google doesn?t want to license it? What if for Google, it?s not about the money?

Then they sit on it.  They can do whatever they want with it.  What’s your point?  You need to understand the business decisions that are being made.  All business decisions are made based on one thing - making money (unless the company’s leadership are boneheads, like Ballmer, the last 4 HP execs, etc.).  If google doesn’t want to license it, and if they think they can make more money suing Apple for using it, or that it will better grow android by not licensing it to Apple (making Apple redesign or take a different approach), then that is what they will do.  If they want to swallow pride and license google maps to Apple and make a ton of money off them, then that is what they will do.  There should be no emotional baggage involved - it’s a business decision.  Risk/Reward.  Profit/Loss.  Everything in Corporate America, including safety features in cars, is risk/reward and profit/loss.  Don’t think that auto companies and alcohol companies and cigarette companies don’t weigh the value of a life when it comes to business decisions to make money.

Seriously, when Google gets this patent granted, which will probably happen within the next year given typical process time frames, why wouldn?t Google just put Apple on notice that Apple can?t copy Google?s inventions?

Again, which way will google make the most money or gain more power?  That’s all they care about, just like Apple.  If they have Apple by the short hairs, then should they license (with back-fees) based on the millions of iDevices out there and make immediate profit?  What is Apple willing to pay?  If they can make more by suing, then they sue.  What will Apple do if they sue?  Pull rank and countersue with slide-to-lock or other Apple-IP-related items?  Do they eventually shake hands and have an Apple-Microsoft-type agreement?  This is a complex chess game.  I don’t pretend to understand utility patent law - nor do I have to.  But your ‘patent principles’ have absolutely no bearing on anything.  Really.  It’s a money game.  Welcome to Corporate America.

I?m pretty sure the blatant hypocrisy and populist nationalism bordering on veiled racism of piling on with ?Samsung and Koreans are copycats? will come back to bite Apple fans in the ass. It?s one thing to say, ?we won a judgement because they infringed these patents? in an environment of near zero scrutiny by the PTO. It?s another to attach a moral component to something everyone is doing because it?s unavoidable.

Meh.  It’s business.

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