Copycatting ― Apple style
US firm’s internal memo indicates iPhone imitated Samsung, LG products
By Kim Yoo-chul
Apple sued Samsung Electronics for copying its iPhone and a U.S. jury made a “patriotic” ruling ordering the Korean firm to pay $1.05 billion in damages.
Now, what appears to be an internal memo from Apple appears to show it was the other way around — the U.S. firm copying designs from Samsung and LG Electronics.
The San Jose verdict was made without key evidence being shown to the nine-member jury.
The evidence, rejected by the judge for its late introduction, concerned Samsung’s F700 smartphone and LG’s Prada-branded phone, both cited in the Apple memo in question.
It remains to be seen how this latest revelation will affect a court in the Netherlands and a ruling by U.S. Judge Lucy Koh on the San Jose verdict.
The “3GSM Congress Trade Show Report” was written just after the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in 2006 by Apple’s marketing executives; a copy of which was obtained by The Korea Times.
Apple’s first iPhone was introduced in June 2007, after the F700 had been released on the market.
The MWC, the premier smartphone show, is held in the Spanish city of Barcelona and the 2006 congress drew a lot of attention.
Apple never attends conventions, however, that year it showed up as everybody was talking about the iPhone.
Its internal report is very descriptive and compares the specifications of its first iPhone — thickness and length to screen size — with its competitors including LG’s Prada.
Also the document includes the release dates for South Korean companies’ mobile phones.
“Apple benchmarked the surface designs of Samsung and LG phones for its first iPhone,” said an industry source.
Samsung submitted the internal Apple document to the trial in California and it was accepted by Judge Koh; but the nine jurors apparently paid little heed to it.
“The Apple document could be crucial evidence that Samsung didn’t copy the iPhone in an appeals court or even the upcoming ruling by Judge Koh,” said another source.
However, according to Florian Mueller, a German-based intellectual property expert, it’s highly-unlikely that Koh will overturn the verdict of the jury, though some adjustments are possible.
As the jurors said some of Samsung smartphones including the Galaxy S, Galaxy S 4G, Showcase and Vibrant diluted “trade dress,” the document could take on more relevance, he said.
Trade dress is the design and appearance of a product together with the elements making up the overall image that serves to identify the product presented to the consumer.
Apple alleges that Samsung intentionally confused customers, “diluting” the former’s brand and connection to consumers.
“The latest document shows Apple’s first iPhone was somewhat influenced by Samsung and LG smartphones. Apple also blocked Samsung’s request to bring a former designer Shin Nishibori to testify. Some evidence is emerging Apple also copied from others,” said the source.
Nishibori had earlier said the iPhone was influenced by a Sony design.
In other news, Samsung had a 43.6 percent share in the Western European smartphone market in the second quarter of the year, followed by Apple with 19 percent, according to data from market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC).
Samsung sold 12 million phones, while Apple sold 5.2 million, IDC said. A year ago, Samsung’s share was 22 percent, while Apple had 21.1 percent.
Another court ruling in the Netherlands is set for Sept. 7. Samsung has higher hopes of a win at the Hague court as rulings related to design patents are shared by other European countries.
In the United Kingdom, Apple was ordered to publish statements in major newspapers there admitting that Samsung didn’t copy Apple.