When Apple’s patent battle with Samsung heads to trial next week, the iPhone maker plans to build its case using its Korean rival’s own words against it. An unredacted version of Apple’s trial brief bluntly states that Samsung was well aware that its smartphones and tablets bore a striking resemblance to Apple’s iPhone and iPad and that the issue was one the company discussed internally.
“Samsung’s documents show the similarity of Samsung’s products is no accident or, as Samsung would have it, a ‘natural evolution,’” Apple argues in its brief. “Rather, it results from Samsung’s deliberate plan to free-ride on the iPhone’s and iPad’s extraordinary success by copying their iconic designs and intuitive user interface. Apple will rely on Samsung’s own documents, which tell an unambiguous story.”
Among those documents are a few purported to show that Samsung not only deliberately copied certain characteristics of the iPhone and iPad, but was also explicitily warned away from doing so by various third parties, including Google. Below, a sampling of some of Apple’s more compelling points.
In February 2010, Google told Samsung that Samsung’s “P1” and “P3” tablets (Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1) were “too similar” to the iPad and demanded “distinguishable design vis-à-vis the iPad for the P3.”
In 2011, Samsung’s own Product Design Group noted that it is “regrettable” that the Galaxy S “looks similar” to older iPhone models.
As part of a formal, Samsung-sponsored evaluation, famous designers warned Samsung that the Galaxy S “looked like it copied the iPhone too much,” and that “innovation is needed.” The designers explained that the appearance of the Galaxy S “[c]losely resembles the iPhone shape so as to have no distinguishable elements,” and “[a]ll you have to do is cover up the Samsung logo and it’s difficult to find anything different from the iPhone.”
Damning stuff — as presented in this context, anyway. And it will be interesting to see how Samsung’s legal team rebuts it. That said, Samsung does have some ammunition of its own. Specifically, some 2006 internal design presentations that outline a mobile UI similar to the one that ultimately debuted on the iPhone, a handy before-and-after the iPhone handset comparison and some internal Apple emails that it claims suggest “Apple’s ‘revolutionary’ iPhone design was derived from the designs of a competitor — Sony.”
Add to that Samsung’s claim that Apple’s lawsuit is anticompetitive and its argument that the iPhone maker should pay it for using patented technology, without which it “could not have become a successful participant in the mobile telecommunications industry,” and next week’s trial is shaping up to be a contentious one indeed.