Depending on which pundit you talk to, Apple’s either a patent bully or the patron saint of modern device design. Either way you look at it, the company sure likes to sue.
A case in point is Cupertino’s battle with Samsung. Apple was victorious in a lawsuit against its Korean rival, with the jury deciding that Samsung infringed on Apple’s design patents. Now Samsung is faced with potentially $1 billion (£622,000) or more in court fees and settlement costs, and must make some not-so-easy decisions regarding its future smartphone plans.
This case could push the company (and others, too) into the waiting hands of Microsoft, and has the potential to dramatically alter the smartphone landscape if it is not overturned. All based on the fact that some of Samsung’s phones resemble the iPhone.
Don’t get me wrong here: I do believe the evidence suggests that at times Samsung was quite careless in its design, and there was some very damaging evidence presented in that case. While it’s probably a good bet that a portion of this case will be overturned in appeals, Samsung is not likely to get off scot-free. What’s even odder about this case is the jury found that the device which most resembles an Apple device – Samsung’s Galaxy Tab – didn’t infringe at all.
Regardless, Apple sued Samsung over design. So you would expect Apple’s legal team to be all over those who even remotely resemble its products, right? Wrong.
HP is one of those getting away with outright design theft. If you didn’t see the HP logo at the bottom of the Spectre One – announced earlier this week – you’d swear it was a new iMac. The dimensions are quite close to Apple’s popular desktop, and the computer itself bears a strong resemblance. The included keyboard and trackpad look almost exactly like Apple’s wireless keyboard and Magic Trackpad.
When Vizio attempted to clone the iMac earlier this year, at least the company made a solid attempt at putting its own spin on the design. Here, HP has done almost nothing different. It really looks like an iMac. How can this fly?
HP and Apple do have some history together. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak once worked for HP. The two companies have a good working relationship – and at one point HP sold branded iPods. But that’s no excuse for what we see here.
If Apple was going to sue Samsung for less, it needs to sue HP for a much more brazen attempt at design theft. Unless there’s some patent licensing going on, and Apple rarely does so for its design, this looks like infringement to me. If they don’t sue here, don’t you think it would make the Cupertino company’s crusade against Samsung look all the more deliberate? We’ll let you be the judge of that – let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.