Samsung Takes The Offensive: Accuses Apple of Violating Patents, Talks About Green Phone Icons, Says iPhone Design Isn’t Unique


Yesterday, we watched as Samsung spent much of their time playing defense and somewhere in there, even managed to convince Judge Koh to toss out a few of Galaxy devices from being grouped into Apple’s patent infringement claims. Today, Samsung moved ahead with their counter suit claims and according to South Korean manufacturer, Apple themselves aren’t immune to patent infringement. Allegedly, the Cupertino-based company is violating 3 of Samsung’s very own unique patents. Wait — Samsung owns patents? Yeah, took us by surprise as well.

Samsung’s Email, Photo, and Music Patents

Samsung’s legal team called a Dr. Woodward Yang to the witness stand where he gave his expert opinion on Samsung’s utility patents and the specific Apple devices trampling all over them. Samsung’s patents in particular deal with the sending of emails and photo browsing on a device equipped with a camera. The doctor demonstrated a few of these patents in a video in which Samsung claims the iPhone 4, 3G, and 3GS, iPad and iPod Touch were all guilty of infringing on thanks to their iOS 4 and iOS 5 software. Sounds a bit weak, I know. But this is Samsung attempting to fight fire with fire.

The iPad almost managed to get off the hook after it wasn’t found using Samsung’s invention of navigating images “through the use of scroll keys,” but a little clause called the “Doctrine of Equivalents” gives already vague patents even more leeway by covering items that provide equivalent functionality to the claimed invention. Sounds great for the inventor of the SlapChop who wants to sue the maker of the Chop N’ Slap, but this is downright nuts when talking about software.

Another Samsung owned patent is the ability to browse photos in gallery, jump into something like a camera application, and return back to the gallery app at the same exact point they left off. Yes, folks, this really is a patent but that’s not all. Samsung also owns a patent for — who would have guessed —  listening to music in the background on a “pocket-sized” mobile device. Of course, that leaves out the iPad (far too big to pocket) but finds the rest of Apple’s products in direct violation (and just about every other mobile device known to man).

Samsung Talks Icons

Later, Samsung’s icon designer Jeeyeun Wang took the stand to defend her work involving the similarities between the icons found in TouchWiz and those in iOS. Wang insisted the icons — in particular, that green phone icon — was designed without any inspiration from Apple’s icon. Apparently, Wang came up with several alternatives to the green phone icon, (like an icon of a tiny cellphone with an antenna sticking out) but it confused users. Wang said the final icon was chosen out of “necessity” and not with intent to copy. While I agree an image of anything other than a traditional phone receiver wouldn’t be immediately recognizable, I think Apple did a good job of presenting their case that Samsung directly designed their TouchWiz UI with iOS in mind.

iPhone’s Design Isn’t Unique

When it came to Apple’s smartphone design patents, Samsung called on Itay Sherman, a design “expert,” to give his view on Apple’s iconic iPhone design. In his professional opinion, Sherman said Apple’s smartphone and tablet designs were “obvious,” not unique, and that a black slab with rounded corners should have never been granted a patent. Sherman went on to show the LG Prada, a similarly designed phone from Samsung’s Korean rival, and a device that predated the iPhone. When Sherman went on to point out the rounded edges of the iPhone made it easier to pull from the pocket (hinting at a utilitarian design and not ornamental) Apple’s legal team pounced. Apple showed Sherman several devices currently on the market today (like the Nokia Lumia for instance), forcing Sherman to admit that other designs would fit the utility he described without “copying” Apple’s design.

Testimonies should finish this week and once those are over, we’ll have to wait to hear from the jury to see who came out on top. We’ll keep you guys updated.

[TheVerge 1, 2, 3]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. oh dont mind me im just here fitting these here nails into this wooden bat. just saying. :D

  2. Go Samsung, destroy the patent troll known as apple.

  3. Samsung needs to sue the USPTO. They are giving out ridiculous patents.

  4. Those patents might be ridiculous but at least its Samsung that owns them. lol

    1. I was saying the same thing. Lord knows what Apple would do with them..

    2. How many ridiculous patents does samsung own compared to the ridiculous patents apple owns…. I am sure apple owns more.

  5. Actually this is the coverage i check the sight for I would love to read more and will be looking forward to what you have tomorrow for me

  6. Some other points from the trial.
    Use Google Images to look these up.

    1) “Fidler tablet” Predates iPad (1980s and 1994). Invented by Roger Fidler. Rectangular, 4 rounded corners, thin design, black bezel around the screen, and flat.
    Fidler tablet is also known as “Knight Ridder Tablet.” Knight Ridder was a newspaper/media company that invisioned people reading the newspaper digitally on a tablet.
    -YouTube “Knight Ridder Tablet” and watch the video from 1994.

    2) “HP Compaq TC1000 Tablet” (2002). Not as obvious as the Fidler Tablet, but I think the point Samsung is trying to make is that Apple didn’t invent the tablet, nor is the design of a rectangular tablet with rounded corners unique to Apple if you look at Fidler & TC1000.
    I’m not sure if this was mentioned in the trial, but in the 1990’s there were tablet PC’s made by Toshiba and HP/Compaq. Basically laptops that had screens that swivled and colapsed over the keyboard, making it a tablet with a stylus.

    3) “Samsung F700” predates iPhone (2006). Pay attention to shape of the front face…rectangular shape, 4 rounded corners, bezel around the screen, a home button and the shape of the earpeace speaker. (I believe this was the phone Samsung missed the deadline in submitting as evidence)

    4) As mentioned above, “LG Prada” which predates iPhone (released 2006, I think before Apple even applied for the design patent). The front face again is rectangular, 4 rounded corners, black bezel around the screen, flat front, home button, and notice the earpeace speaker shape again.

    1. Yeah, the F700 would have been GREAT evidence (and the device everyone was expecting to “win the trial” for them) but Samsung botched it up. =/

      1. yea, they royally bit the pooch with that one.. but on the upside, IF they lose this one the F700 will surely be brought up in an appeal as “new” evidence.

        What I dont understand is how Apple was allowed to argue that the F700 was an iPhone copy…. yet Samsung wasnt allowed to present proof that the F700 actually predates Apples iPhone unveiling. I understand Samsung presented the evidence late, but then the Judge knowingly allowed Apples lawyers to lie to everyones face after she already seen and decided to throw away the evidence proving otherwise o_O? …..

        1. That’s because she wants apple to win the trial….

          1. I really dont want to say something like that about a judge, but it’s kind of hard to argue against it under the circumstances… You know?

  7. Did the proof reader have the day off? :P

    1. Sorry, so much information, I had to go back and tidy things up. Hope it makes more sense now.

      1. You must be one of those writing “experts”.

  8. The prada looks very similar to the iphone 4, in terms of size style and the buttons down either side

  9. Sorry, just bothers me, “today they’re” not “today their”

    1. We could never be friends

  10. Samsung: I rest my case.
    Apple: (crying, sobbing and pulls out a few million dollars)
    Lucy Koh: Samsung, your patents are irrelevant! Stop wasting my time.
    Samsung: But…
    Lucy Koh: That’s it! Apple wins! From now on there will be no other products but apple’s.

    Next day: iFridge just 50’000 dollars, iCar 25 billion dollars, iGlass etc.

    1. you forgot …ish*t take a dump for just $1000 a day…

  11. The main problem here is the U.S Patent office, that will let you patent almost anything even if a similar looking device had been around forever.

  12. Even if Samsung went down. Apple will lose its outnumbered. What goes around comes around. Beat it apple fanboy trolls.

    1. They’re Out To Get You, Better Leave While You Can
      Don’t Wanna Be A Boy, You Wanna Be A Man
      You Wanna Stay Alive, Better Do What You Can
      So Beat It, Just Beat It

  13. Who cares if they look similar. That was actually the reason I didn’t get the Samsung. I love the uniqueness of Motorola. Apple is just pissed because Samsung is catching up. Oh well tty to I ovate something instead of buying out companies that did and then calling it yours. Apple is full of hacks and they try to seem like they are not.

    1. I think Samsung caught up and overtook a while ago.

  14. LOL, Id really love to see Samsung get an injunction on Apple’s phones until they removed the abilities to basically listen to music and have an integrated camera/gallery.

    Samsungs patents are also bull but, until they fix the entire system, whats good for the goose…

  15. I do think Lucy is biased but her throwing some of Samsung’s main Galaxy devices out of the case makes me feel a little better.

  16. you kinda remind me of an ostrich with its head shoved into the ground thinking its ass is covered as well.

  17. Tell me again why I am paying for this crap with my tax dollars? I have voted Samsung with my wallet, yet Apple is still prying my money away by wasting tax dollars in court.

  18. I’d say the real utility benefit of rounded corners is strength. You drop something on a sharp corner, it’s much more likely to be dented than if you drop it on a rounded one.

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