Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

Summary: Apple has won an injunction banning one tablet that looks similar to the iPad, and promises more are on the way. These are indeed crazy times in mobile technology.

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Apple is a company that has always protected its intellectual property, and the recent injunction in Germany against the Samsung Galaxy Tab is just the first of what may be many. The authorities ruled that Samsung's tablet looked too much like the iPad, and has banned its sale across the EU. Buried in that court filing by Apple is the indication that it will seek a similar injunction against Motorola for the XOOM. Where will this madness end?

Tablets and its smaller sibling smartphone are devices that are similar no matter who makes them. The function of these devices leaves little room to make the appearance of them distinctive, and that's why this injunction is insane. If you read the court documents, it quickly becomes apparent that Apple can make the same case against every tablet on the planet. It's one thing to protect technical developments, but to say that only Apple can produce a tablet that looks like a tablet can only hurt consumers wanting choice.

It is clear that Apple is cherry-picking competitor's products that threatens its iPad business, and will keep doing so going forward given its initial success in the courts. You keep doing it until it no longer works, not to protect your dominant business position but because it is an expensive deterrent to competitors to play the game. That's exactly what this is for, make no mistake about it.

I am supportive of companies protecting inventions, but this is just ludicrous. You can't ban products that look something like another, as that just stifles competition. Exact knockoffs should be prohibited, but that's a far cry from things that just look somewhat like other things. It is disappointing to see courts falling under the Apple spell like this.

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Topics: Hardware, Apple, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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140 comments
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  • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

    This is such a complete joke. "A rectangular computing device" will soon be patented by Apple.

    Why innovate, when you can just sue your competition?

    Pathetic.
    Droid101
    • A couple things....

      @Droid101 .. First Apple is a Corporation with share holders who can and have sued boards/CEO's over the very thought that they did not protect the share holders interests. It has happened, it does happen and it will happen again. Second what of the Ford Escort? Say that car sold like wildfire and GM came out with a car called the GM Hooker that looked identical to the Ford Escort? Would Ford sue? Would Ford's share holder be royally blanked off if Ford did not? Could Ford's stockholder sue? Should they?

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

        @James Quinn <br>It would works only if it looks identical.<br>iPad and Galaxy Tab 10.1 are both shiny and rectanglar, and it's where similarity ends.<br><br>GT 10.1 doesn't have physcial hoome button<br>GT 10.1 camera arrangment is different<br>GT 10.1 doesn't even looks the same on the back<br><br>If share holders wants to sue Ford because GM makes a car that have 4 wheels and driving experience is similar with driving wheel and brake pedal, their shareholders has a mental problem.<br><br>But hey, it looks like someone COULD claim they own the design of 4 wheels, driving wheel and brake pedal. So it's really not about right or wrong in principle does it? And I'm sure you don't really care anyway.
        Samic
      • We'll carry your analogy a little farther

        @James Quinn
        If GM came out with a car that looked identicle to the Escort, that's one thing.

        What Apple is doing here is the equivilent of Ford suing GM for producing a vehicle with front, side, and rear windows on a square body with 4 wheels.
        William Farrell
      • Devices should not have to be 'identical' at all for the copycat to be ...

        @Samic: ... banned.

        If the devices would be identical, then Samsung and Motorola would be charged with producing a forgery.

        But now their products are just too similar, so they break Apple patents -- there is "trade dress" legislation about that. Samsung and Motorola made minor changes to be not directly charged with forgery, but their products are still rip-off of Apple's products.

        Notice that Apple is not going to sue, for example, Sony for outer design of their tablets, even though it has that "rectangular" patent. Because Sony's design is different.
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

        @James Quinn "Say that car sold like wildfire and GM came out with a car called the GM Hooker that looked identical to the Ford Escort? Would Ford sue?"

        GM sued Cherry Motors in China in 2004 because the Cherry QQ looks like the Chevy Spark. Next Honda sued Shuanghuan Automobile because the Laibao SRV looks like the Honda CRV.
        JJJoseph
      • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

        @James Quinn Your carmaking analogy needs a slight adjustment to match what's going on with Apple and tablets.

        It would have to be that Ford came out with a very successful 2 door hatchback, and the courts then ruled that ONLY Ford could make cars with the same shape and arrangement of doors, banning GM from making ANY car that came in the same 2-doors/hatch/4-wheels arrangement, and weirdly ignoring the fact that many (less successful) 2 door hatchbacks had been made in the past long before Ford came out with theirs.
        spark555
      • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

        @James Quinn

        Would they not know that they were going to a "GM" dealer instead of a Ford dealer?

        No, there is no lawsuit there.
        Still Lynn
      • Crap.

        @James Quinn
        First off, the form factor of a car, or any motor vehicle can be wildly different according to what that car is supposed to do. To compare motor vehicles generally is like comparing computing devices generally. NOBODY NOBODY says that a desktop shouldn't be composed of a tower, monitor, keyboard and mouse. The world would scream if someone suggested that this was a proprietary design. How about a cell phone, we all know that on the surface many cell phone look comparably similar in many ways and thats because they are all trying to reach the pinnacle of design and that usually leads to a particular form factor that works best. Cars are not so different.

        This patent nonsense is garbage. Its a good thing we didn't have patent laws back in prehistoric ages because those who developed the first gardens would be in charge of the entire worlds produce because most gardens, however big or small have some very common attributes that could have easily been patented given todays standards of what comprises unique and original design.
        Cayble
      • Excellent reason to change the law

        @James Quinn
        Maybe we shouldn't make corporate directors liable for not putting profit before all else.
        John L. Ries
    • Only in the EU .....

      .... will such a stretch be taken seriously!
      (Well, maybe California!)
      kd5auq
    • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

      @Droid101 - exactly - flat screen TVs all look similar, DVD and blu- ray players all look and operate similarly, in another article it ws mentioned cars look alike - fridges look similar.

      i guess it is alright for apple to steal names - iphone, icloud, apple - but if anyone else does it - no more sales
      stevejg61
      • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

        @stevejg61 - i am also betting the galaxy tab (and i know this for sure about the Xoom) does not have an Apple logo on the back side - any one with half a brain would know it was not an Apple product
        stevejg61
      • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

        @stevejg61: Did anyone patent the products you listed above? Unlikely. So what's your point?

        Also, Apple paid for the use of the product names you listed so it's hardly stealing (surprised you didn't mention iOS which Cisco owned and allowed Apple to use.)

        At least, get your facts straight before overreacting.
        Andre Richards
      • Dumb analogy ...

        @stevejg61 HDTVs look similar and everybody PAYS to license the patented technologies related to HDTVs. Same goes for DVD/BD players.
        wackoae
      • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

        @stevejg61 Slightly amusing that even the iPad name isn't original: http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=fujitsu+ipad&meta=&rlz=
        purchasea
      • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

        @stevejg61 Finger as a pointing device, what a concept... Apple invented it. Before that, there were pens. Soft keys, what a concept. Dudes, think back to 2007 before iPhone... iPhone and iPad represented the birth of a whole new category and concept in computing. The whole concept of Windows OS came about because of Apple's innovation and they were unsuccessful in suing Microsoft, so they made sure their patents were in line before introducing these devices which they knew would change the world... and they have... and now every blood sucking company is trying to feed off of it. Samsung came out and blatantly said that they were going to pull their tab off the market to make it thinner and lighter than the iPad 2 after it was introduced... because the tablet they had was based on iPad. If that isn't copy cat, what is?
        strat@...
      • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

        @strat@... Calm down, iSheep. Making your product better because the competing product is better than you expected is not copying, it's called competition.
        MadDonkey
    • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

      @Droid101 Let your hatred for Apple fuel your purchases. Screw apple!
      timspublic1@...
    • RE: Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning

      @Droid101 Apple is doing just fine with their applied patents. The real target in this suit is Android and the intellectual property theft that the CEO of Google perpetrated while he was privy to the development of iOS and the iPad and iPhone as a member of Apple's board of directors.<br>Apple didn't get to be bigger than Exxon by suing the competition but rather by innovation, savvy marketing, and simply building a better mousetrap that more people find value in than the competition. Last time I checked Apple didn't have goon squads running around with Uzis forcing consumers to buy their products. It's called free enterprise.
      Finally, a brief review of the history of 'tablet' computers will reveal a heavy push by Microsoft a decade ago, the production of any number of lame tablets that, while used in a few niche enterprise markets, never caught on as consumer devices. Not until the advent of the iPad last year had tablets sold well at all. Funny how all of the 'clones' resemble the form factor that Apple used in the iPad. But it goes beyond that, as you probably are aware. Apple has created a consumer 'Disneyland' with its iOS ecosystem in support of any sort of iOS device it may wish to market. That particular aspect of the iOS phenomenon hasn't come close to being cloned yet.
      dheady@...