Rotten Apple: Apple's lousy design patent lawsuits

Rotten Apple: Apple's lousy design patent lawsuits

Summary: If Apple continues to have its way it will be illegal to buy anything that looks like a tablet because it will infringe on Apple's “design” patent.



U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, has granted Apple's request to halt the sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab, which runs Google’s Android operating system. The Galaxy Tab's crime? It looks like a tablet.

No. I'm not making that up. Judge Koh claims that “Samsung appears to have created a design that is likely to deceive an ordinary observer.” True, from a distance of ten feet, it's not easy to tell them apart. It's not easy to tell any tablet apart from any other tablet at that range. Most people I know prefer to use tablets at arm's reach, but that's just me.

Apple's legal case rests on a single design patent, USD504889. In it, Apple claims “the ornamental design for an electronic device, substantially as shown and described.” You can see Apple's patented design for yourself in this story. Looks pretty much like a tablet doesn't it? Do you see anything about it what-so-ever that looks unique?

In fact, it looks pretty much like every tablet that's ever been created in history. That's because, “It's A Tablet!!” There is nothing innovative or original about its design. It's A Tablet!! We had wax tablets in Roman times. We had tablets on Star Trek in the 60s, and even Windows tablets like the Compaq Concerto in the 90s. 

Apple's iPad Design Patent: Been There, Done That (Images)

While this court decision has gotten a lot of attention in the States, this is only part of Apple's world wide war against Android. Apple is trying to stomp out any tablet competition around the globe. One of their chief weapons? This moronic design patent, which never, ever should have been granted. 

The truly odd thing about this to me is that Apple doesn't need to resort to such extreme legal tactics. Apple still has over 60 percent of the tablet market. Int the first quarter of 2012, Apple sold more than 13.6 million iPads. Samsung ? It only sold 1.6 million tablets. That gives them just over 7 percent of the overall market share. Sure sounds to me like Samsung is doing real harm to Apple!  Why in the world is Apple still pursuing its thermonuclear campaign against Android?

Apple is already winning. Sure I can see the day when cheap Android tablets rule the low-end of the market. So what? Apple's never been especially been interested in affordable devices. They want to sell, and they do sell, to high-end customers. I don't see Apple losing its high-profit customers anytime this decade.

While this has largely been a fight against Android, that's only been because only Samsung and other Android vendors have created tablets with any other mass market appeal at all. HP, RIM, Nokia, and others have all failed to make much of a splash. If Microsoft is somehow successful in making its Surface tablets popular, the boys from Redmond had better watch out. Apple's lawyers will be coming their way soon.

I really don't get it. Why is Apple is being a bully?. In the last couple of months a boycott Apple movement has started. It started as a protest about working conditions in Apple's Chinese partners factories. But the banning of the Galaxy Tab seems to have given it new life.

Why can't Apple just compete on the basis of its outstanding products in the market place instead of trying to sue its competition into the ground? Apple can still make money hand over fist, get even more fans and not be rotten.  Come on Apple, stop with the stupid lawsuits already!

Related Stories:

Samsung Galaxy tab stays off US shelves, appeal rejected

Apple wins U.S. sales injunction against Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Why Apple should abandon its 'thermonuclear' war against Android

Apple's Worldwide War on Samsung and Android

Topics: Apple, Legal, Mobility, Samsung, Tablets

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  • Simple

    They fear competition and do not believe you can give the consumer a choice or most of them will refuse to buy your products with some exceptions.

    People weren't given a choice of what to use with the iPod so Apple had a captive audience...

    The iPhone had many other choices and collectively, the seriously out number the iPhone and profits for Apps are building fast.

    The iPad, this was the only game in town 3 years ago and now it has just over 50% Marketshare in the USA.

    For those that think Marketshare doesn't matter, you really need to rethink that, friends buy what their friends have many times and that can quickly overwhelm a market.
    • only game in town

      ((( "The iPad, this was the only game in town 3 years ago and now it has just over 50% Marketshare in the USA." )))

      If by "just over 50%" you mean 68%, then you're dead-on accurate:
      • No

        I said US Marketshare where products like the fire ate into their share... the 68% is world wide but even that is down... The fire was only available in the USA.

        Oh and anyone want to doubt what I was saying about Samsung profits being roughly 40% of the smartphone market now?
        • The Fire ate what???

          I guess nobody told you that Amazon only ordered 250K units from the manufacture and still has undelivered inventory. In fact, they sold so many that Amazon ask Quanta Computer to slow down production.

          It is the same as the ASUS Transformer ..... it sold "millions" (acording to fandroids) ... but fact is ASUS admitted in open court (Hasbro vs Asus) that they only produced 80K units and still had 50% of unsold units.

          Or what about the one you don't talk about anymore ... you know that Xoom ... that after almost 2 years, it still hasn't sold out the 80K Motorola manufactured. But you claimed it was selling in the millions.
          • about to change

            You are right, well I don't know about numbers but in terms of Apple having any real competition in the Tablet market right now, however that, I believe, is about to change.
            The reason for that is what is happening in this month is that Google is beginning the pretty much exact same process as they did with the Android phone, that being the Nexus project.
            2-3 years ago iPhone users were enjoying the same type of market share lead over android that they currently have with the iPad, then Google came along and released a Nexus phone, 2-3 years later and where is the phone market? Android now has the same market share in phones that Apple has in the iPad currently.
            So I think there is a good chance that we will see the same thing happen in the tablet space. Android will eventually gain the superior market share.
            NOW keep in mind that this is talking OS only, I don't particularly think that Apple will ever lose the top spot in when you consider hardware manufacturer. The iPad is pretty amazing and we will probably see it settle at about 35%, with android settleing at about 55%, and that 55% split up between Asus, Samsung and maybe HTC once they get their act together. Of course the other 10% will be eaten up by those few BB Playbooks and MS surfaces. Although I will never count MS really out of the game.
    • anything about it what-so-ever that looks unique? ah ya... it looks like

      ------- Do you see anything about it what-so-ever that looks unique? --------

      what is particularly funny about comments like this is that there were no tablets that looked like that before the iPad...... this author just assumes they always existed, that ofcourse a tablet looks like that.... they did not, they all came because of the iPad, and they copied the iPad design... obviously....

      lets ask the author where Samsung got the idea of a tablet then, shall we? did they just come up with it out of the blue? even their picture frames had dozens of buttons on either the front of the back...

      the judge held the iPad, and the samsung device over her head, and when the opposing counsel takes 10mins to decide which one is theirs.... then you know you have a copied product...

      if it smells, tastes, and looks like an existing product, then it is a copy, and as another judge said, you know copying when you see it....
      • Why is Apple is being a bully?

        someone who doesn't know apple very well obviously....

        Apple is being a bully because Samsung did something that wasn't right... and Steve Jobs set out to make it right... that is all...

        lets ask the author what he would do if someone broke into his house and stole his iPad... and he caught the thief at the door.... what would you do?

        that is what Steve Jobs was doing... that is all.... pretty obvious really, especially since this is what Steve Jobs said... hello????

        it has nothing to do with money.. or market share... obviously... Apple is wiping the floor with the competition in smartphones and tablets...

        he was simply taking revenge on a thief,
        • And they stole...what exactly?

          Please enlighten us. I'm interested to see how much kool-aid you've drunk.
        • Just out of curiousity

          do you face silcon Valley and pray to Apple several times a day too?

          the diagrams they use in their claims look like a 5 year old drew them.. they could be ANYTHING..

          These lawsuits are the same thing MS did, does, for years.. you cannot keep ahead of them so when you are the 500 lb Gorilla you sue them to the stoneage so they cannot be competition, or you buy them out..
      • Ha...

        I am holding my old Handsping Visor(stopped working a few years ago) and just pulled out some leaky batteries tat had a March, 2000 date on them. I can't even remember when these came out (black and white) but they sure precededed anythin Steve Jobs had come up with. Stop defending Apple for it's monopolistic practices and obscene profit margins. Apple produces locked down, platformed products that are not user maintenable. If that's what you like then go ahead and purchase the product but don't spout of about how great Apple is. And I am one of many that doesn't think Apple has a right to hold a patent on a basic design. Maybe I should run out and patent the shape of a carboard box and then sue eveyone who doesn't pay me royalties - about equivalent.
        • Steve Jobs did not always work at Apple (the NeXT years from 1985-1996)

          Apple's Newton development started in 1987, without Steve Jobs:

          But, even in 1987, Apple wasn't first.
          Rabid Howler Monkey
      • What about the Compaq TC100 from 2003

        The Compaq TC100 looks a lot like an iPad to me when you separate it from the keyboard. Of course the iPad is a little thinner, but it's pretty obvious that you would get thinner as the tech progresses.

        Apple did a great job by monetizing the technology, but to claim a design patent on something this simplistic seems pretty absurd. We can't have giant minefields blocking development of new technology. Innovation is going to slow to a snail's pace and likelygive the countries that don't recognize certain types of patents a clear technological advantage.
        K B
        • 2007 iTablet

          I wonder if the lawyers could spot the difference 5 years ago
        • I had TC100 and it is very different.

          iPad does not have a bezel. it has a single piece of glass on the front, flushed. There is only one visible button on the front, no indicator lights, no visible buttons if you hold and look straight at it.
          • Those are minor differences

            I remember years ago seeing an old CRT TV with glass across the whole front. And the iPad does have a visible button from the front (the one on the right top). It's not very visible, but it's definitely there. The TC1000's buttons were not very visible from the front, except for a button that was more on the front than the side (doesn't the iPad have a single button on the front too???).

            Also, the Samsung doesn't have any buttons on the front and it has does have an indicator light. Not to mention that it also has different dimensions than an iPad.

            It's tough to make a case that Apple deserves a design patent for something as broad as this patent is. Design patents need to be very particular.
            K B
    • Apple, Samsung, HTC, Motorola are all big companies

      There is no "bullying". Large companies suing each other all the time. Design patents are used as weapons in fashion industries all the time. Rolex suing watch companies all the time if they make watches looked too much like Rolexes.

      Remember, Samsung is a state sanctioned monopoly. HTC is owned by one of the richest family in Taiwan/China, Motorola is now owned by Google who has billions in revenue a year.

      Anybody watched "The devil wears Proda"? from an untrained eye, two belts looks exactly the same. But for the fashion editor, the difference is night and day.
    • Apple has never been the "only game in town

      "People weren't given a choice of what to use with the iPod so Apple had a captive audience." Apparently you were not aware that Apple and it's iPod line were not the first MP3 players out there. I know this because I happen to have been one of the proud owners of a Creative Labs Nomad (I think about two years before the iPod came along). iPad's were also not the first tablets. So there were, and always have been, other choices.

      Typically what Apple does is to take existing ideas and hardware and then package them up in an attractive and easy to use package that the user doesn't have to mess around with too much; and then market them effectively - giving them a high "cool factor". All of this does have value. But as far as their hardware is concerned the level of innovation is practically zero. Certainly very little that could be patented if we had any kind of reasonable system. Their real innovation seems to me to be on the software side of things.
  • Grow up, Steven.

    The MS Surface tablets don't infringe on Apple's design patents. That one example renders all your opinions on this topic wrong and mute.
    • How can you say that?

      What makes the galaxy tab so much like the iPhone?
      • err

        I meant IPad