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iPhony? Samsung claims Apple ripped off Sony

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Samsung court docs show diagrams alleging it was working on iPhone-like designs before Apple's product launched.

Samsung court docs show diagrams alleging it was working on iPhone-like designs before Apple's product launched.

Apple's early iPhone prototypes were inspired by Sony, while Samsung knew its tablets and smartphones were virtually indistinguishable from Apple's but launched them anyway, court documents reveal.

A US jury trial in the high stakes patent infringement battle between Apple and Samsung begins on Monday, and both have filed their trial briefs. Among court documents is a slew of photographs of iPhone and iPad prototypes, first revealed by The Verge.

In Australia, after the High Court in December overturned a decision to ban the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from sale, the Federal Court is now hearing Samsung's counter-claim that Apple infringed Samsung's patents related to 3G communications technology.

Early iPads were designed with kickstands.

Early iPads were designed with kickstands.

Australian patent lawyer Mark Summerfield, senior associate at Watermark, said he did not expect the US case to affect the case in Australia as in the US the hearing would be concerned with Apple's "design patents" protecting the physical appearance of products, whereas the case in Australia concerned their function.

Apple's US trial brief, obtained by The Wall Street Journal's AllThingsD blog, reveals the company will rely on internal Samsung emails showing the similarity of Samsung's products to Apple's is "no accident".

"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's brief reads.

Early iPads were designed with kickstands.

Early iPads were designed with kickstands.

"Apple will rely on Samsung's own documents, which tell an unambiguous story."

The company is asking for Samsung to pay damages of $US2.5 billion to cover its estimated lost profits.

Among the documents is one from February 2010 showing Google warned Samsung that its Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1 products (code-named P1 and P3) were "too similar" to the iPad. It demanded "distinguishable designs".

This iPhone prototype looks like the first iPhone that was released by the company but has square corners.

This iPhone prototype looks like the first iPhone that was released by the company but has square corners.

Another from 2011 shows Samsung's Product Design Group noted it was "regrettable" that the Galaxy S "looks similar" to older iPhone models.

Furthermore, third-party designers warned Samsung that the Galaxy S "looked like it copied the iPhone too much". They warned that "all you have to do is cover up the Samsung logo and it's difficult to find anything different from the iPhone".

Samsung hit back with its own court filing, seen by Fairfax Media, claiming that Apple's iPhone wasn't its own invention but in fact based on Sony products.

Another early iPhone prototype, this one resembling recent Nokia phones.

Another early iPhone prototype, this one resembling recent Nokia phones.

In 2006, the year before the iPhone was launched, Apple industrial designer Shin Nishibori was directed to design an iPhone prototype inspired by Sony. The Apple prototypes even had the "Sony" logo bar one which was renamed "Jony" after Apple design chief Sir Jonathan Ive.

Compared to Apple's own internal prototype that looked like an iPod Mini, Apple designer Richard Howarth noted the Sony-inspired designs allowed for a "much smaller-looking product with a much nicer shape".

One bears a striking resemblance to the iPhone 4 and was described by Howarth as "only half a step away from the current model".

iPhone prototypes from 2006 revealed by Samsung in court documents. Left model was inspired by Sony, while the one on the right resembled an iPod Mini.

iPhone prototypes from 2006 revealed by Samsung in court documents. Left model was inspired by Sony, while the one on the right resembled an iPod Mini.

Other internal Apple emails contained in Samsung's brief showed Apple employees claiming that the iPhone's features weren't first to the market but instead the "first successful versions of many features".

Samsung also tabled its own internal documents from 2006 purportedly showing that it was working on iPhone-style designs "well before the iPhone was announced". It claims much of what Apple complains of is Samsung simply "benchmarking" products against competitors, which Apple also practices.

"Samsung has been researching and developing mobile telecommunications technology since  at least as early as 1991 and invented much of the technology for today's smartphones," Samsung claims.

Apple's Sony-inspired "Jony" iPhone prototype.

Apple's Sony-inspired "Jony" iPhone prototype.

"Indeed,  Apple, which sold its first iPhone nearly 20 years after Samsung started  developing mobile phone technology, could not have sold a single iPhone without the benefit of Samsung's patented technology."

A US federal court judge this week sanctioned Samsung for destroying email evidence relevant to the case, saying the company "failed to prevent" its destruction.

Patent lawyer Summerfield said settlement talks between Samsung and Apple appeared to have failed because Apple believes its patents are worth significantly more than the Samsung patents involved in the case.

Since Samsung's technology forms an essential part of 3G, unlike Apple, it has already previously agreed to make its patents available to all comers on "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory" terms.

"The fact that it [Samsung] cannot deny a licence to a good-faith requester may mean that the court will not grant an injunction, which weakens Samsung's negotiating position," he said.

"Apple seems to hold the view that standards-essential patents are inherently less valuable than its user-experience patents. I am not persuaded that this is the case.

"Samsung has invested huge sums of money over two decades in its contributions to mobile communications technology, and to suggest that a licence covering the huge number of patents (hundreds?) it owns in this area should be much cheaper than a license to a handful of Apple UX patents fails to recognise this reality."

Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett recently labelled Samsung and Apple's patent dispute over the 3G wireless transmission technology "ridiculous" and said it might be best settled in mediation.

In the US, Judge Lucy Koh in California already tried to resolve the issue via mediation but it did not work.

0 comment

  • litigation has been slowing real innovation for years now

    Commenter
    gaz
    Date and time
    July 27, 2012, 10:16AM
    • So true.

      Commenter
      Aiden Van Depreaux
      Date and time
      July 27, 2012, 11:19AM
    • Ah yes! But innovation in litigation has been really taking off!!

      Commenter
      David
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 27, 2012, 12:12PM
    • haha Yes!
      And who pays for this waste ... we do ... well not me because I dont buy apple or samsung products. But I'm sure it will affect me somewhere on the food chain.
      Its time we stopped wasting all these resources. Lets pool all the money from lawyers and courts and make a new planet or buy up everything we currently have!

      Commenter
      Yuppy
      Location
      Yuppy Ville
      Date and time
      July 27, 2012, 12:53PM
    • If Apple stole the "Look" of the iPhone from Sony they have no right to sue Samsung for copying the look of thier product because they didn't design it. With out seeing how the interface on the Sony phone works I can't comment on if they copied the "Feel" of using the product as well.

      Commenter
      ozcurly1
      Date and time
      July 27, 2012, 1:17PM
    • Apple have patented litigation.

      Commenter
      TechHead
      Location
      in your base
      Date and time
      July 28, 2012, 5:02PM
  • the irony...

    Commenter
    mattymarsh
    Location
    2066 reppin'
    Date and time
    July 27, 2012, 10:26AM
    • I think that you mean iRony...

      Commenter
      The Badger
      Location
      Newcastle
      Date and time
      July 27, 2012, 12:33PM
    • No, I think he meant to say the LG Prada ;)

      http://technewsreporter.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/apple-iphone-4-is-direct-copy-of-lg.html

      Commenter
      SilverTail
      Location
      UpperNorthShore
      Date and time
      July 27, 2012, 1:25PM
  • Not going to say it this time... :)

    Commenter
    ZeroZeroOne
    Location
    Syd
    Date and time
    July 27, 2012, 10:29AM
    Comments are now closed
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