Susan Kare, famed iconographer for original Mac, says Samsung’s phones confuse even her

“The look and feel of the interface on Samsung’s phones is so similar to those on Apple‘s iPhones that even the graphic designer who put together the icons for the orginal Mac gets confused,” Brian Caulfield reports for Forbes.

“Susan Kare, the former Apple designer who created the iconic smiling Mac icon for Apple’s computers testified in U.S. District Court Tuesday that Samsung has substantially mimicked the look and feel of Apple’s mobile software,” Caulfield reports. “Pointing to similarities between Samsung’s phones and Apple’s design patents, Kare said the similarities are ‘beyond coincidental… It seemed likely to me that Samsung used iPhone screen graphics as a guide.'”

Caulfield reports, “The result is so confusing that Kare said that at one point, when trying to pick up an iPhone to make a point when talking to lawyers about the case that she accidentally picked up one of Samsung’s handsets instead.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s products came first, then Samsung’s:

Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Tab Trade Dress Infringement

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    1. Agreed. I am not sure how many people on this forum appreciate that Susan Kare is, for all intents and purposes, the creator of the visual language that defines the desktop GUI, and to a lesser extent, touch UIs. She was a key member of what is arguably the most legendary product team in history. I am absolutely certain that every time Steve Jobs talked about Apple being at the intersection of liberal arts and technology, he thought of Kare.

  1. From the original article, page 2:

    ”That once the consumer goes through the phone, sees the Samsung name for several seconds, sees the graphic for ‘Droid,’ and by the time they get to that application screen, wouldn’t you agree that the consumer knows they’re not using a Samsung phone?”

    It would appear even the Samsung lawyer is getting confused! “Sees the Samsung name for seconds… knows they’re not using a Samsung phone?”

  2. This event should be THE smoking gun. The iconogropher who knows the most about Apple’s icons and look and feel from the very early days mistakenly picks up a Samsung phone to make a point about the iPhone. When such a person can mistakenly pick up the wrong phone it should be obvious to anyone that the two designs are nearly indistinguishable.

    Apple’s lawyers should be able to drive this one into the ground. Apple’s lawyers should be able to convince the jury that of the literally thousands (if not millions) of possible ways to do a smart phone and the icons and the layout Samsung purposely chose to mimic the iPhone so closely that even the foremost expert in the field can get confused about which one is which.

    Knowing Apple’s legal team… They’ll blow this obvious point.

    1. And how do you know Apple’s attorneys didn’t tell her to do exactly that? A bit of legal staging, eh? Even if Samsung’s attorneys object, it’s too late. The jury has already seen it.

      1. Any attorney getting caught telling a witness make up a story about misconstruing a Samsung phone for an iPhone will be sanctioned (fined, at best) and disbarred at worst.

        While I firmly believe in the old adage that 99.9% of lawyers give the rest a bad name, I doubt any lawyer is going to tell a witness to make up a story about an event that did not happen. (Or did you not understand the nuance that she did not pick up the Samsung phone in court but rather during a pre-trial evaluation?)

  3. “Accidentally” picked up the Samsung. Sure. Accidentally on purpose, maybe. Brilliant theater for the court, though. Maybe Apple’s lawyers aren’t so incompetent after all.

    1. People keep ripping on Apple’s attorneys without really understanding just how incredibly hard it is to win a patent case. Trade dress cases are even more difficult because it’s not like anything for design is filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office.

      So far Samsung seems to be taking this case on the chin. We’ll see if it holds up.

    2. Did none of you get the nuance that this did not happen in court, but rather during pre-trial events? This was not staged. It was a retelling of events by her. Lying on the stand is perjury. A lawyer telling her to lie on the stand is grounds for being disbarred.

  4. “I’m not an expert on human behavior” … but but I’m here to tell you how they would behave if they picked up the wrong phone. The only time a person is going to do that is not in a store … when they already own a phone. And with the cases and such that people put on them … this just won’t happen.

    In a store the big Apple or Samsung plus the model name sign is going to clue them in to exactly what they are looking at. Chances are with these Expensive electronics – you are going to have to ask for assistance to get even close to a real live powered device anyway. By then you know damn well what it is. Who makes it. Ok smiley face lady?

    1. Have you ever given a multi hour (or in my case multi day) deposition for a multi million dollar case or been on the stand for several days in such a case? I doubt it. I can tel you from personal experience it is rather stressful.

      With an array of electronics out in front of you if the devices are similar enough it is quite possible to pick up the wrong device. A quick glance while you’re listening to the question and trying to answer can very, very easily end up with picking up the Samsung phone rather than an iPhone. That is THE whole point of this lawsuit. Samsung intentionally made them so similar that she (and lots of other people) can easily confuse them.

  5. No haters…

    Also, she made a cow that can be confused with a dog. Or was that a dog that was like a cow?


    Oh, and the other day, my iPhone rang and I picked up a banana. This makes me an idiot.

    I’m here all night 😉

    1. Actually, Susan Kare didn’t do the dog-cow; she had already left for NeXT when the dog-cow was created to show the orientation of the page coming out of a LaserWriter. It is the work of an unknown artist at Apple. However, inarguably (and in this context, ironically), her creature in the Cairo font set – which she did create – was the direct inspiration for the LaserWriter’s dog-cow. Moof!

  6. Really? The tablets’ desktop don’t look anything alike. Plus, the Samsung tablet has SAMSUNG printed on the front. HOW CAN PEOPLE SAY THEY GET CONFUSED? Are they of questionable intelligence or just so oblivious to details that they cannot tell these devices apart?

    1. To someone off the street buying a phone they look similar enough for the salesperson to say it’s “just like the iphone” or “it’s as good as…” The PC salesmen didn’t die, he’s selling phones the same way he used to sell “winder puters” to ma & pa.

      1. Actually moms and pops is a stereotype as all sorts of people buy PC’s and get PC’s sold to them. Usually the ones that get them sold to them (lock stock and barrel) are usually the (much) less knowledgeable ones. What I think Apple wants is to keep away (remove) the chance that a buyer could have more than one Smartphone or Tablet to look at and to Decide on on their own. They want just 1 Smartphone and 1 Tablet brand to be available (in this trade dress anyway [this form factor]) so there is NO CHOICE. … And that’s not good. IMHO.

        I don’t think in this day and age that the buyers are that clueless. If they are they should bring their kids with them (the moms and pops should.)

        I borrowed a iPhone and bought and iPod Touch before ever getting an iPhone. And I still didn’t have an idea until I had them for a bit what the whole Jail Breaking situation was going to bring into the mix. I did want a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 – they weren’t out yet for a long time. Then I didn’t have the funds … and couldn’t really justify having one. Or I would have one right now.

      2. queue up Apple’s Ad from the Olympics.

        Remember, Samsung lawyers even got it wrong when the judge held them up side by side. so your argument falls on it’s face.

        but then again we are talking about the Samsung Lawyers… and Lawyers in general…

        1. “Basically” people don’t go shopping for a Mac from the guy across the street – like in that commercial. They go to a place with at least a Mac section. But Apples and Oranges as we are talking about Smartphones and Tablets. *Some* of the shoppers for those items may be first time buyers. And there is no dedicated section for Apple for those – at least in department stores. Anyway someone would have to be really dense to mistake another brand for Apple … with all the packaging and stuff.

          How far were those lawyers away in court? How many feet? Because at 10 feet that could happen. But at 1 – 3 feet with good vision … I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

          1. not sure about the lawyers, I remember MDN posting it though..
            search found the story elsewhere. it was 10′, and I’d assume turned off..


            I was talking more of smartphones/tablets not actual mac’s though.
            another MDN article I read recently was saying that a best buy survey, a high % of the returns were cause the people thought it was an iPad…

            I can’t find the article, it was a link to another site but it was like 20% or something. (It was just a few days ago too..)

            People going to a store looking to buy a “Mac” and then buying a PC, yeah I agree that isn’t common at all. But going to buy an iPhone/iPad.. and being steered to another device, yeah I know that happens.

            1. “Come on in to our store – we’re having a SALE … but you can’t come any closer than 10 feet to the tablets – and you have to pick one to get the sale price.”

              I would think most people would try them out. I have played with both in stores … To actually get all the way home with a bag with a box in it that surely says Samsung – it’s hard to believe that 20% of returns did that in Best Buy. They were either liars or not the sharpest tools in the shed. I worked for Radio Shack years ago – and people used to buy certain items and return them in a short period of time. Radar detectors was a bad one for that. People would buy one, got on a trip, and then come back and return it for a refund. “I thought it was a microwave oven”. Yah … we get that a lot … the do deal with microwave frequencies. “I don’t need it” (any more – because my trip is over.) Yah, we get that a lot, people renting radar detectors for FREE.

    2. How can people get confused? It’s very simple: people do not look at the details. Period. They look and see what they expect to see. If two things are similar enough and they want an Apple device then they “see” an Apple device. The point is that they are similar *enough* that even experts can get them momentarily confused.

      Note she did NOT say that she tried to operate the Samsung phone as an iPhone. It is very likely that she picked up the Samsung phone when intending to pick up the iPhone (to demonstrate something or show something on the iPhone) and as soon as she tried to operate it realized the difference. However, that quick bit of confusion (because the designs are so similar) is enough.

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