Apple patent trial: Samsung scrutinised iPhone to improve Galaxy UI

Apple patent trial: Samsung scrutinised iPhone to improve Galaxy UI

Summary: A document prepared by Samsung engineers that compares features of the iPhone with the Galaxy S has been admitted into evidence in the ongoing Apple versus Samsung trial in the US


The ongoing legal dispute between Apple and Samsung has taken an interesting twist as a document that directly compares the iPhone with the Galaxy 'S1' has been admitted into evidence.

Apple iPhone
An internal document reveals that Samsung closely compared Apple's iPhone with its Galaxy S smartphone.

The two smartphone manufacturers have been embroiled in litigation over alleged copyright and patent infringements in a number of countries around the world, with both companies scoring victories and defeats in different jurisdictions.

However, a translation of a report prepared by the South Korean company in 2010 that directly compares the iPhone to the Galaxy S — referred to as the 'S1' — has been admitted into evidence in the case currently being heard in the US district court of northern California. Apple has already claimed in the case Samsung "slavishly" copied elements of its design for its smartphones and tablets.

Areas for improvement

In the document, obtained by AllThingsD, Samsung compares hundreds of aspects between the two devices, pointing out key differences and areas for improvement in its own product along the way. In identifying the weak points of the Galaxy S1, the company's engineers also proposed ways in which the device and UI could be updated.

Section 5, for example, compares elements of the home screen on the devices, noting that the iPhone does not allow the placing of duplicate icons on the home screen but that the S1 "causes user confusion because multiple icons for the same menu option can be placed on the home screen".

The note at the bottom of the slide concludes that the screen needs to be modified so that duplicates cannot be placed on the home screen.

The document also includes an overall summary comparison of features of the iPhone and S1 side-by-side.

Patent infringement?

While the 132-page document is unlikely to help Samsung's defence team, Apple will still have to prove that the company infringed on specific patents or specific design elements of the iPhone — a decision that will ultimately be taken by a 10-person jury.

In the UK, the patent dispute between the companies resulted in a ruling that Samsung's Galaxy tablet designs do not infringe on Apple's iPad. As a result Apple has been ordered to display a notice on its website stating that Samsung did not infringe upon its tablet designs.

Samsung had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

Updated to include response from Samsung:

"Samsung benchmarks many peer companies.  In fact, these are typical competitive analyses routinely undertaken by many companies in many industries - including Apple. Samsung stands by its culture of continuous improvement and innovation.  We are very proud of the product innovations driven by our more than 50,000 designers and engineers around the world who have made Samsung's products the products of choice," the company said.

Topics: Tablets, Apple, Mobility, Patents, Samsung

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • Let's hear it from the Apple fanbois

    Who will be the first to swear on their reputation that Apple does not look at competing products when creating their own?
    • Its one thing to look at a product..

      Its another thing entirely to look at a product, and then say make it look like that product.
      • Where did Samsung say that?

        No where did the article suggest that Samsung looked at iPhone and said "Make it look like that." The article's best example is that Samsung said "don't allow duplicate icons on home screen" after noting that Apple did that. This would be like Apple seeing a notification screen on Android and saying "we should add something like this" which they then did.

        It is undeniable that the look of the Galaxy is from Samsung's earlier F700 and even earlier photo frames.
        • Did you take a look at the actual document...

          Being referenced in the article? They say to make it look like the iphone enough times to make it clear they were doing more than just looking at the iPhone.
          • No they did not.

            I read the entire document. Not once did they say "make it look like the iphone." They talk a lot about the features of the iPhone and why those features are attractive to consumers. They berate themselves for creating a poor user interface. Then the design team is directed to stop taking so many vacations and business trips, to buckle down and create a better user interface and to create hardware that has a more metallic feel rather than plastic feel. But nowhere do they say "make it look like the iphone".
          • Ok...

            They said the iPhone does A, B, C with E visual elements. Areas of improvement should be to modify the S1to do A, B, C with E visual elements.
          • Right

            There are none so blind as those who will not see. Where's your cane man?
          • What it shows...

            If Apple did not release the iPhone the Samsung phones would still suck in the UX department.
        • troll

          Troll. Only response necessary.
        • ...pretty much everywhere

          In every case, the recommendation ends up being, "do it the way Apple does it." This is very different from the sort of thing that a creative company like Apple does--examining their own products, and surveying their own users to find out how they can make their products better. Samsung should not have needed Apple to show them these problems with their devices--they should have been able to figure it out for themselves. But this would have meant hiring people who genuinely understood product design for usability. Instead, they took the easy way out: "Let's look at how Apple does it, and see how that is better." One thing this makes clear is that Samsung's copying goes far beyond the overall "look" of the device, extending down to the finest details of product functionality.
          • As long as they werent patentable or patented things theyre free

            to do it. I haven't heard if apple tried patenting not allowing duplicate thinngs on the home screen.
            Johnny Vegas
          • READ AGAIN Apple Sheep

            Samsumg yes did say look at the way Apple does it -- then strived to make/do it BETTER.
            This is what Apple did with Sony products - in some cases outright not improving but copying things like.. oh the chiclet keyboard, the macbook air.
            Samsung analyzed the top phone and tried to be better - and now are.

            Apple is just butthurt over this, and so are Apple users that vested alot of their ego on the brand name. So to now know Samsung did things better, hurts their pride and they chop up quotes like you, to defend apple. Kind of pathetic don't you think?!
          • Samsung fanboy????

            One thing is for sure....if Samsung are clueless about things like UX and user interaction with devices then they will not be the ones to progress the industry in this area. Who will it be....time will tell but whoever it is no doubt Samsung will use them for inspiration.

            If you are going to come out defending a company....Samsung should not be least choose a company with a little integrity.
          • Actually...not so much.

            Apple has said themselves that they do not use user feedback or user opinion when designing a product. There has also been documents submitted proving that Apple asked themselves how would Sony build an iphone and went that direction as well as St. Steve himself saying "We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas." So would you Apple fanbios please get off your high horse, Apple is just like every other company on the planet. They steal they copy and they lie. The only real difference is that when they have competition they act like a child and throw a fit and start suing everyone and their brother for copying their stolen ideas.

            I think the question needs to be asked why the judge keeps throwing out any evidence that shows Apple is as guilty as everyone else of this. It seems so far that the judge is very one sided in all of this.
          • Show us the evidence...

            that the iPhone was a copy of an actually Sony device. Show us in detail exactly how and what Apple had copied. Shouldn't be hard right?
          • They did

            They brought the evidence and the judge said it wasn't allowed because it was too late. What a crock, evidence is brought to trial late all the time. The judge just gives the opposing side time to review it before it can be brought out in the trial itself. Blatantly against Samsung.
          • What they brought was something designed by Apple...

            themselves as an "enjoyable side project", the "Jony" phone. NOT an actual real shipping Sony device.

            So once again, show me the Sony device Apple was clearly copying/stealing from when they developed the iPhone? If Apple was stealing from Sony then it shouldn't be hard pointing out the actual device Apple stole from!
          • Huh???

            "Apple asked themselves how would Sony build an iphone"

            Obviously Sony would not do it they way Apple did it because Sony didn't do it the way Apple did it. Only after the iPhone did the Xperia come out looking more like an iPhone than any previous Sony product.
        • Read the document.

          But then, you would have to admit to being 100% wrong.
        • What it does show is..

          Samsung were in the phone business for a lot longer and still had no idea what constituted a modern UX. It took Apples expertise to show them the way...Samsung are pretty clueless in the UX department.