Vanity Fair Profiles Samsung’s History as a Willful Copycat in Multiple Industries

| Editorial

Two U.S. juries have found that Samsung willfully copied Apple innovations and technologies, and those cases established that Samsung willfully and deliberately set out to copy the iPhone. A five page spread in Vanity Fair digs deeper into Samsung's corporate culture, detailing how Samsung used willful patent infringement not just as a crutch, but as a deliberate, bottom feeding strategy.

The Samsung Copier

Apple's Original iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S

Apple's epic patent infringement battle with Samsung serves as the ostensible foundation of the article, but at the heart of the matter is a clear pattern of deliberate infringement by Samsung. When sued for that infringement, the company's strategy is to launch counter suits, delays, and to eventually settle just before its products get banned in one market or another.

Victims include Sharp, Pioneer, Kodak, and Apple, just to name some of the highest profile companies. What makes the pattern particularly appalling to anyone with a sense of fairness and the value of earned profits is that Samsung also has a pattern of using those stalling tactics and the copied technologies to take market share away from the real innovators.

In the case of Pioneer, for instance, though Samsung settled with the company after years of delays, Pioneer ended up shutting down its TV brand shortly after Samsung finally paid up.

This is what has happened in the smartphone market, where today's Samsung devices bear much less resemblance to Apple's, but gained entry into that market only because of its original and willful infringement. When the iPhone was first introduced, Samsung was a bit player in the smartphone market, but after identifying 126 points where the iPhone was superior to its smartphone offerings—and copying many of those points—Samsung was able to take significant share based on that copying.

The article also profiles Samsung's history of price fixing in multiple markets over the decades, of bribery and other forms of corruption, and for generally being a bottom feeding corporate douche bag. In the words of Sam Baxter, a patent attorney who once worked for Samsung:

They never met a patent they didn’t think they might like to use, no matter who it belongs to. I represented [Swedish telecommunications company] Ericsson, and they couldn’t lie if their lives depended on it, and I represented Samsung and they couldn’t tell the truth if their lives depended on it.

Perhaps this is why Samsung constantly feels the need to tell people its product are innovative. In a recent Galaxy S5 commercial, Samsung overlays the text "The most innovative," forgetting that when you have to tell people something good about yourself, it's probably not true.

Check out the full article for much more on the topic.

[Via MacRumors]

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How much you wanna bet Scamsung sues Vanity Fair?!


I’d love to see more big news sites covering this…


Yeah. It would be great if it hit CNN, the local networks, and the BBC. The more people educated on what scam artists they are, the less chance they have of winning a damn trial.


Doesn’t matter if they win or lose. They keep delaying and shuffling, and tweaking the product just enough to force new trial after new trial. Anything so they can keep on stealing and copying. Corporate douche bags is too kind.


Just boycott Samsung products. If you don’t buy they can’t sell there copycat products.


jhorvatic:  I’m with you buddy - just boycott them!  They are ethically in a category below WalMart, which pays their employees so miserably and keeps them just under the minimum number of hours so that they don’t have to provide them with healthcare.  Then they advise them on how to file for welfare, food stamps, and other public benefits!  But IMO, Sammy is even worse than Walmart!!  (Though I do boycott Walmart too!)


@MacFrogger Even WalMart would not have a convicted felon as a CEO.  Samsung is just so beyond the pale when it comes to shamelessness and ethics, or the lack thereof, especially if you consider that Samsung is based in the far east where loss of ‘face’ is a very big deal.  Then again, this is the same country that felt no shame at all, (heck they were even indignant at the criticism) when they turned the boxing events at the Seoul Olympics into a cheating and bribery farce.


jhorvatic - I agree, which goes back to comments from JustCause and GraphicMac.  The more this hits the news, the more people who will be disgusted by Samdung’s practices and will start to boycott them.  Sad thing is, many people in America don’t care enough about it - in fact they practically praise Samdung for taking the expensive iPhone and making a ‘cheap iPhone derivative for the masses…’  Just as kids today don’t respect their elders/teachers/parents/etc. most Americans don’t respect the fact that Apple invested billions of their hard earned money only to watch Samdung sell cheap knock-offs of it, no better than the knock-off markets in Shanghai.  Very sad.

John Molloy

“Perhaps this is why Samsung constantly feels the need to tell people its product are innovative. In a recent Galaxy S5 commercial, Samsung overlays the text “The most innovative,” forgetting that when you have to tell people something good about yourself, it’s probably not true.”

This is the problem with Samsung. Spend enough money and people forget. Easily. Look at the recent court case. John Quinn (who is now holidaying in Maui) sold the jury the lie that “Apple would be “dancing in the street” if Apple had 100 million payout and also that these infringements were not Samsung’s but Googles, “Apple should sue Google” both of which the Jury ran with.

How short people’s memories are. Because of the ubiquity of Android, the general public think that is how all phones work, quickly forgetting what the world was like before Jan 9th 2007. Samsung “won” because people forget and their blanket marketing budget has told everyone that they are the only innovative company around.


Because of reports like this one, I also have been boycotting Samsung for several years. Although this is not completely possible due to the fact that Samsung makes parts for other companies. Perhaps the companies that buy from Samsung would be wise to go elsewhere.


So where are the comments from the Apple needs to stop suing and innovate crowd? What do you think of this article folks?


Had never bought a Samsung product until about 2 years ago when I got a TV and blu ray player. After months of updates and failure after failure, I finally threw the blu ray player away and bought a Sony. Nefver had another problem. On all the web forums, Samsung is derided for making second rate generally not functioning players. Mine certainly met that description. I still have the TV although it has multiple functionality problems I never experienced with my old Sony. Samsung: NEVER AGAIN!


aardman: I think we agree - Sammy is even worse than Walmart!  wink

But boycott ‘em both and hold your head high!



Many thanks for the Vanity Fair link. Having read the article, I come away with, not merely a different conclusion as its author, who opines,

After more than 1,000 days of litigation, hopefully one morning soon executives at Samsung and Apple will look at their reflection and, at long last, hit their limit of “no”s.

but a disquiet that, in the main, no one in the West who has not lived in the East, has the faintest clue what they are up against or how this will, almost inevitably - barring a course correction by Western legal institutions - end.

Let me skip to that end and get that bit over with. This will end badly for Western technological innovation, investment and homegrown businesses. Using their current strategy for fighting IP theft, they will lose. Western tech companies will bleed market share and profits, lose engineers whom they can no longer support, close their doors and leave barren campuses strewn across their once mighty tech powerhouses, reminiscent of those carcasses of car factories that decay in the USA’s Motor City of yesteryear. This is not a wish, nor does it rise to the level of prophecy, which bespeaks prescience beyond mere reason, but a hard prediction based upon years of living in this region (the East), knowing the corporate culture and practices, and with the practised eye of a trained fighter, watching the different fighting strategies, and more importantly, the efficiency of effort and the toll taken on each side, to conclude how this must, inevitably, end, barring a change. The West, with its deep-seated history of jurisprudence, emphasis on free markets and competition, but governed by specific rules of engagement and ‘fair play’ are as unlikely to change and adapt to this new style of warfare waged by emerging giants in the East as were the British army to modify their European rooted fighting tactics despite being faced with a new type of guerrilla enemy in the American colonies. That outcome, too, was predicted by those who understood that such strategic asymmetry was unsustainable and a losing proposition for the British.

Samsung is setting a model for future emerging titans from the Asian tiger economies for generations to come. Asian-style street rules; muscular, unscrupulous, ruthless takeover of whatever is attractive with but one goal above all others - win, and let the winner take all. Where force doesn’t succeed, bribe, cajole and threaten to get the compliance and support of the legal infrastructure. It’s about numbers and presence; ‘I have 45% of the parliament in my pocket compared to your 10%; I’ve got 30 judges compared to your five; you’ve got two cabinet ministers but I own the prime minister. I win’.

The Vanity Fair article cites corruption, but makes it appear company-specific. It isn’t. Throughout Southern and Eastern Asia, it’s just how business is done. That’s not unfair; it’s documented locally and regionally. If you want something, what are you prepared to do to get it, and how much are you willing to pay to keep it? Whom are you willing to push aside and with what level of brutality (figuratively or literally - both occur - just read about the Bollywood industry in Mumbai for enlightenment, even if bone-chillingly vile).

As these companies emerge, they port with them their business style because it has brought them thus far. The West, meanwhile, whether its corporations or its courts, counter (and yes, so far they are merely reactive and not on the offensive, which in martial arts, means you lose) with effete rules, regulations, and rulings that have virtually no meaning to these companies and no place in their dealings with each other. One can well imagine the contempt and amusement that these corporate leaders feel each time they confront yet another clueless corporate target or naive judge and jury, and play them with the same game without alteration because it succeeds every single time. The regional meme of the dim-witted and bumbling foreigner is pervasive and not entirely undeserved. It is, as these court battle illustrate, based on practised observation.

As for Apple, I for one, don’t wish them to engage in the repugnant practices legion at Samsung. Rather, what I wish, but do not expect - indeed predict will not occur in time enough to save many if not most Western tech companies - is for the legislative and judicial systems to recognise what they are up against, take the gloves off and move with lethal intent on IP theft by all means necessary.


Vanity Fair is becoming quite a magazine again, after years in the doldrums. Two weeks ago, it was the long-but-worth-it Edward Snowden how-it-happened, This week, their interview with Monica Lewinsky and this. The writing is first rate, also.


The difference here is that Samsung has never squared off against a beast the size of Apple, currently the planet’s most valued company. And Apple has repeatedly shown than they’re more than willing to take Samsung to the mat. We’ll see…

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