Industrial design expert on why Samsung is the copyist

By , Aug 6, 2012

Samsung has been called the copyist by Apple many times over, the first time in court documents the iPhone maker filed as part of patent infringement claims brought against its frenemy in April of 2011.

But evidence is mounting that Samsung slavishly copied some areas of the iPhone experience, like the iPhone’s gorgeous icons.

On Monday, Apple brought in an expert to testify before a northern California court where the iPhone and Galaxy makers locked horns in the patent trial of the century…

Peter Bressler is a former president of the Industrial Designers Society and the founder and board chair of product design firm Bresslergroup.

Himself an inventor credited with inventing or co-inventing about 70 patents, Bressler testified today that, in his opinion, Samsung did in fact lift Apple’s designs for a few of its own smartphones and tablets.

He said, according to CNET‘s Josh Lowensohn:

My opinion (is) that there are a number of Samsung phones and two Samsung tablets that are substantially the same as the design in those (Apple) patents.

And what might those patents be?

According to The Verge:

One of the iPhone patents covers the flat, front face of the device while the other protects its rounded corners and the bezel Apple that ditched with the iPhone 4 design. The third design patent protects the iPad’s rounded corners, flat face, and the thin black border beneath the glass on the front of the tablet.

He went on further to opine that uninformed would-be buyers could easily confuse Samsung’s Galaxy-branded smartphones and tablet with Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

It’s my opinion that this phone, the design of this phone would be considered substantially the same when viewed by regular consumers.

His opinion especially pertains to Samsung’s first and second-generation Galaxy S smartphones.

What makes Bressler qualified to make such assessments?

According to his own words:

Industrial designers are trained to pay attention to a lot of the little details that work together to form the overall impression that the usual consumer would view. So (consumers) may see those details, but they tend to be somewhat subconscious to the overall view.

It was also discovered in the courtroom last week that an internal email circulated at Samsung following the iPhone’s debut five years ago, in which Samsung’s executives described the iPhone as causing a “crisis of design” at the company.

According to Forbes, the email message reads:

All this time we’ve been paying all our attention to Nokia, and concentrated our efforts on things like Folder, Bar, Slide, yet when our [product] is compared to the unexpected competitor Apple’s iPhone, the difference is truly that of Heaven and Earth.

It’s a crisis of design.

I also love this bit from Samsung’s email message:

When everybody (both consumers and the industry talk about [user experience], they weight it against the iPhone, the iPhone has becomes the standard.

That’s how things are already.

Asked by Apple’s attorney William Lee about its contents, chief strategy officer Justin Denison tried to downplay internal communication by calling it Samsung’s “hyperbolic” management style, to which Lee pointed out that the only documents that refer to a crisis in design refer to the iPhone.

In other legal news, Samsung also broke rules by taking witnesses to see the courtroom.

As this litigation drags out, Samsung is planning to launch the 10.1-inch Galaxy Note tablet later this month as it tries to solidify its position as the leading vendor of Android tablets, seen right above.

And here’s the promo clip.

Building upon the original 5.3-inch Galaxy Note phablet, the upcoming Galaxy Note 10.1 is driven by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and sports a 10.1-inch 1280-by-800 pixels display and a pen meant to “elevate a user’s creativity and productivity”.

It also has a 1.4GHz quad-core chip with 2GB of RAM, a five-megapixel back camera and a 1.9-megapixel one out the front. WiFi and cellular models will be offered, with three storage options ( 16/32/64GB).

Samsung is also slated to update the 5.3-inch phablet with a 0.2 inch larger display and refreshed internals at a media event on August 29, two weeks before the next iPhone announcement.

Looks like it’s gonna be a busy fall, with the new iPhone coming and just about everyone else scrambling to spoil Apple’s party by outing their hero devices.

So, would you say that you tech illiterate friends might confuse Samsung’s Galaxy gear to Apple’s?

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  • http://twitter.com/killa130 cesar garcia

    That looks like a blackberry PlayBook coincidence?

    • http://tabapple.com/ Solomon Watts

      …where?

  • http://wiyakom.com/ wiyakom

    as far as i know samsung media event is on 15 Aug , not 29 Aug
    ( Samsung’s Aug. 15 event gets official, Galaxy Note 10.1 unveiling likely )

  • http://twitter.com/franklylife Frank Anthony

    Please iDownloadblog, i suggest you guys should post something more useful & meaningful to us “readers… All this copy case thing is already much. Apple & Samsung should kill themselves for all i care. We need better post about Apps, tweaks, new product etc. Not Apple/Samsung season movie full of war, hatred & revenge ;(

    • http://www.iTechBlog.in/ taran

      nope…i like these posts…keep me posted…:)

  • http://twitter.com/woojin444 Woojin Ra

    I think this is unfair to Samsung…
    Is Apple really expecting Samsung to not make icons that are ordinary???
    For example, the music app, it’s got a cd and a music note on it… How is that copying at all? It’s like a chair company suing another chair company because the chair’s got a seat…

    And for the phone design, because people seems to be liking the concept of the iPhone and its all touchscreen function, Samsung changed their phone a bit to fit the customers…

    • http://twitter.com/tciitb TheCatIsInTheBag

      isnt simple as that

      on the icons, they copied the symbols AND THE COLORS, green on the back of the phone and purple on the back of cd/notes…

    • http://www.facebook.com/xxLIUZHENYUxx Liu Zhenyu

      Somewhat yea but again not really. Before the original iphone, we thought touch screen phones were the best and hard to innovate better… until

    • Lach Murimi

      A bit?? A BIT?? The whole reason i bought the first galaxy s was cuz it looked like the iphone but it was cheaper. Boy wasn’t i disappointed. Hell, if you out an iphone 3g and a galaxy s on the other side of the room they both look the same.

      • @dongiuj

        But you knew it was a Galaxy S.

  • @dongiuj

    Nope because if you were tech illiterate, you would either not buy one at all or you would ask the shop staff.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

    How anyone could confuse the two is beyond me. It’s like saying you’d confuse a Transformer Prime for an ultrabook. All these products look alike, but they do all have massive differences (besides just the fact the branding shows exactly what they are/what company they come from).

    • http://www.facebook.com/xxLIUZHENYUxx Liu Zhenyu

      nope u have to admit there are similarities too alike to be accidental, just think of how the original iphone changed the mobile industry and samsung, if innovative, can do just that considering they are a big company compared to apple at that time.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        There are similarities, but there aren’t enough to confuse people into thinking they’re buying another company. Android phones have many buttons at the bottom, the iPhone has 1. Plus Samsung phones have the word “Samsung” written right across the top. You can’t confuse an iPhone for that. All companies copy each other, it’s a fact of life. I think they need to get over it and stop acting 2 years olds who didn’t get a cookie.

      • http://www.facebook.com/abhishekgoswami1199 Abhishek Goswami

        yea..both Samsung and Apple engineers are stupid – they dont know both phones are different, yey still spending millions on court trials….THEY SHOULD HIRE YOU INSTEAD. FUCK OFF YOU PIECE OF SHIT

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        Aaaannnd reported. Seriously you people need to grow up. I never said they were stupid, I stated a fact: all tech companies copy each other. It’s funny how you fanboys can’t take the facts when they’re showed to you. Apple is not the best company out there, they simply have huge banks, massive legal teams, and patent vaults that would make the Vatican Library cry. Even Steve Jobs said “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” Yet now his company is the one attacking everyone for “stealing.”

      • SimonReidy

        I couldn’t agree more. And man that childish abuse you received was out of line (I saw it before it was deleted).

        I have an iPhone, iPad and AppleTV, but that doesn’t mean I have to blindly follow’s Apple’s claims and pretend they invent or revolutionize every aspect of design, while claiming everyone else is copying them.

        As you quite rightly pointed out it was Steve Jobs himself that said great artists steal! All companies do it in various ways as part of market research and product evolution.

        I do however think it’s pretty clear that Samsung did set out to copy Apple’s style of design with the initial Galaxy, but whether they crossed the line is for the courts and their broken patent system to decide. This style of litigation could continue for years if the current system of Intellectual Property law remains and am I’m worried for the future of other mobile operating system’s to be able to compete without stepping on each other’s toes at every single turn. If Apple got its way it would be a giant monopoly, which is terrible for consumers as then they can evolve at a snail’s pace and charge whatever they want.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        I do agree that the first Galaxy S phone looks a lot like the iPhone, but I don’t believe for one second that people confused the two. The branding alone would tell you it’s not an Apple product. And I definitely agree that if Apple wins this case, it’s going to be a catastrophe for any other mobile OS that wants to use “rounded corners” on either the phone design or the UI of the OS.

        And believe me, that’s not the worse reply I’ve had before. People who blindly follow any company always get mad when you point out they do exactly what they’re fighting.

        And I have an iPhone (soon to be sold though), iPad, Galaxy Exhibit 4G and a Roku Box. I would have an Apple TV if I had a TV with a HDMI port. Having brand loyalty, I think, hinders innovation, because the companies become complacent knowing their products will get bought no matter what.

      • SimonReidy

        Great post. Agree entirely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beenthruhel Mayank Thapa

    Galaxy S i9000 looks like a winterboard theme LOL Damm Samsung you’re one hell of a copy cat!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/xxLIUZHENYUxx Liu Zhenyu

    Good post

  • http://www.facebook.com/seshukumar95 Seshu Kumar

    It’s. Real

  • Lach Murimi

    “If it has a pen/stylus, you know they blew it”

    –Steve Jobs–

  • SoCoMagNuM

    This is just stupid. Seriously. Suing over the shape of a phone and/or functional similarities is just petty and foolishness. Hell all phones make phone calls and text and get REPLIES…hmm they should all be suing each other for having similar features. As a former iDevice owner since the iPod 30GB classic to now a Sumsung Galaxy S III user…I find this whole situation unecessary and BOTH Samsung and Apple need to lay off. Like I said before…Apple is going to bite the hand that feeds the guts of their “original” “innovative” device….smh

  • @dongiuj

    So what shape were mobile phones before the iPhone? Rectangular.
    What shape will mobile phones/smartphones continue to be while hand held?
    Rectangular.
    Apple, you didn’t invent a shape. You partly thought of a more modern rectangular hand held phone.