Why the Apple vs Samsung verdict is a big mistake or something

“If Apple had really been in the design business then they’d have seen Samsung’s copy as sheer flattery (at least at the trade dress level) and moved on to the next iteration,” Haydn Shaughnessy writes for Forbes. “Design is fashion, a peculiar form of intellectual property that wavers and transforms by the season.”

“Design is not invention. It arises from a common pool of creativity. I happen to think Apple’s icon designs are superlative but no more so than Chris Bangle’s designs for BMW – now take a close look at Opel, which are as similar to BMW as Audi are to Mercedes and not just because Opel designers finally know how to do curves – more importantly they have the technology to bend the metal like BMW does,” Shaughnessy writes. “Apple deserves no kudos for taking the trade dress fight to the courts. Maybe if they were a bunch of losers whose design advantage had been unfairly appropriated and now they had no cash for the kids’ school fees, then there would be a cause for sympathy. But this is is the most valuable company in history. Mr Cook. Move on. Create.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: People who do not grasp the value of trade dress – the marketing treasure expended alone – run the risk of sounding as silly and as ignorant as Haydn Shaughnessy.

Apple created the modern day smartphone and taught the world what an iPhone is. This was not trivial, nor was it free.

The reason there are copies – of anything – is to take for free (steal) that which was paid for by the original maker: The R&D, the salary and perks of the world’s preeminent industrial designer, the education of the public through TV spots and a very expensive network of retail outlets, the hundreds of millions in online, print, television, etc. marketing, everything that goes into a product.

This why a maker of knockoff handbags makes Coach knockoffs, to trade on Coach’s work in order to move their fake wares without investing in the design, marketing, etc. This is why a maker of auto knockoffs makes BMW knockoffs. This is why Samsung knocked off iPhone. Samsung stole Apple’s work and they traded on Apple’s considerable investment. This is why the jury found Samsung guilty.

There is no market for paintings of Campbell’s soup cans without Warhol.

Making knockoffs isn’t flattery, it’s theft. It’s also an expression of companies’ disdain and low opinion of their own customers.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Tony Hawat” for the heads up.]

64 Comments

    1. The reason why America is in deep trouble today is that for the past 3 decades it is been run through Wall Street’s wisdom and backseat driving punditry living in ivory towers. Their version of “competition” always tend to reduce into market share and commodity prices. It looks good on paper for the short term but in the long run those who swallowed such shallow and hollow advice hook, line and sinker live to regret their choices. Wall Street punditry’s take on “competition” is not sustainable. It leads to wastage of resources and spoilt the juvenile tendency of freetards to consume more than what is good for them.

      The airline industry promised “competition” and each participant airline undertook crazy “competitive” measures to kill one another. Today the airline industry is one of the most inefficient sector in the economy. The airline industry suffers and the public has to endure this inefficiency.

      The banking industry promised “competition” and they undertook risky competitive measures like the alchemy of converting bad loans into high-grade investment products. In the end Wall Street bankers tank the whole economy both domestically and internationally.

      The PC industry promised “competition” but what we see is mediocre products at commodity prices. Tech giants like HP, IBM, Dell and Compaq who feed on such promises do not compete in a rational and moral sense but cause irreparable harm to themselves and to the country. Microsoft, the sustainer for these dimwits is itself now in a technology backwater. Google, which now take the mantle of Microsoft by promising “free competition” is killing domestic innovation and selling the country to foreigners like Samsung. Look at what Google’s promise has wrought to domestic giants in the industry. All of them make losses and Samsung eats up the giant share of the Android lunch.

      On the other hand, Apple which has never succumbed to Wall Street wiles and tech punditry actually practiced true competition. While the rest of the industry were sleeping, Apple with its innovative spirit managed to come out with world-smashing products one after another that others were awed to believe that Apple’s design is the only way to produce a smartphone or a tablet. Therefore the only way to compete is to copy Apple’s design.

  1. It would be interesting to hear what Mr. Shaughnessy and the editors of Forbes think about the practice of plagiarism or copying without crediting another writer’s works as it applies in their world of journalism.

    In fact, maybe someone should go back and check Mr. Shaughnessy’s articles to see if he is practicing what he is, in essence, advocating be done in the world of technology.

  2. I wish I could take his stupid article and publish everywhere and not pay him a cent… See how he likes his work stolen…. Problem is no one would publish or read it …. People only steal things of value.

    1. @AmericanJoe: Right on. All the high-end car marques have taken extreme measure to protect their trade dress; in particular, the style of their grilles. Look at the BMW’s buck teeth. Look at Mercedes’ waffle iron. Look at the distinctive Rolls grille. Then ask yourself if you could tell a Chevrolet from a Dodge or a Ford by looking at the grilles from any model year of the past 50 years. You can’t and those are the nadir of automotive design.

      1. you sir have no idea what your talking about BMW’s “buck teeth” or did you mean kidney- shaped double grills? If you can’t distinguish between Ford, Chevy and Dodge grill designs then you must be living on another planet BTW Rolls Royce stole from the Lincoln grill design many years ago starting in 1938.

        1. What looks like kidneys to you resemble buck teeth to me. We’re splitting hairs.

          BTW, the word is “grille” not “grill.

          In re the Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge grilles, what I tried to say was that they have no real ongoing and easily recognizable design. Detroit changes grille design rather often but the basic grille designs of European marques from the 50s are recognizable 60 years hence.

          Rolls and Lincoln? You may be right – I didn’t realize that.

  3. all journalism has gone to hell.

    mr slaughter nessy, hm, shaugnessy, is messy, silly, illogicsl, politically. orrect maybe, but truthfully or morally incorrect, sloppy, hypocritical & irresponsible.

    let’s all plagiarize hos writings – he’ll change his mind faster than he can puke

  4. “Mr Cook. Move on. Create.”

    they HAVE created and somebody ripped them off.

    like apple said what took years for apple to design, samsung ripped off in weeks.

    weird that they don’t ask the OTHER dudes to create instead of stealing.

  5. MDN – if making knockoffs is theft, then Apple is party to the game too. I mean really, have you looked at Apple’s notification bar? If that’s not a direct ripoff from Android then I don’t know what is. I’m not saying Android hasn’t copied tons from Apple (because they have), but Apple is guilty of this too. I just wish all the money and time spent on lawsuits could be channeled into creating new and cool stuff. Apple’s creativity seems to be lacking as of late. They make me worry that they’re forgetting just how they got to the top. What do they have coming that is truly innovative? A 7″ tablet? Like no one has done that recently. A phone with a 4″ screen? Yeah, highly innovative. Not. (Not to say I won’t enjoy a bigger screen – I’ve wanted this for a while now) Anyway, I just wish they’d shift some of that cash away from litigating and get back to innovating. Surely Jobs is not the only one at Apple capable of inspiring and focusing on innovation!

    1. Rick. Those “products” don’t exist. Apple hasn’t announced any such products.

      Trash Apple for something that actually exists, not made-up-stuff from the manure stream that is the Internet today.

    2. “I just wish all the money and time spent on lawsuits could be channeled into creating new and cool stuff.”
      Rick, you’re either playing at disingenuousness, or you are stupider than sand in spaghetti.
      Apple channeled their money (and time and energy and genius) into “creating new and cool stuff”.
      Samsung then stole Apple’s work, and marketed it as their own.
      Why should Apple spend any more money on “creating new and cool stuff” just so that other companies can steal Apple’s work and ideas, and take Apple’s market share and sales, with Apple’s own ideas?
      You’re not really that stupid or unethical, Rick.
      So what’s your motivation for pretending to be?

    3. “Apple’s creativity seems to be lacking as of late.”
      Yes, Rick, I’m sure you’re quite concerned about Apple’s recent lack of creativity.
      So concerned, are you, that you feel that Samsung should be able to profit from Apple’s “uncreative” ideas.
      Heck, when Apple markets a product, you imply that it’s a sign of lack of creativity. But when Samsung can’t even market its own design, and instead sells copies of Apple’s “uncreative” products, that’s just good business and good for the consumer, right Rick?
      Rick, I am tempted to call you a piece of shit. But I’m sorry, you are not a piece of shit. You see, pieces of shit have at least some value. Shit can be used as fertiliser, fuel, even artistic material. No Rick, you are not a piece of shit.
      You Sir, are merely a smear on the underpants of civil society.
      Good day to you, Rick, you snivelling excuse for a Troll.

      1. NHL! I have not laughed that hard in years. That was so good my wife had to wipe the tears from my eye, pick me off the floor and help me to breath again before I died. Thanks for making my day! Rick of course may not feel the same. :0

        1. And I also salute you in your articulate way of showing where the Bear Shits in the Woods.

          Yes it was the best read of the day and more importantly “it brought a tear to me eye” also !

          Thanks NHL, Beating around the bush has never been my forte either. 🙂

    4. Rick, I congratulate you for paying no attention to NHL. While I disagree with some of your points, you expressed your views respectfully. When having a disagreement, the person who resorts to name calling and using profanity loses. (And not everyone who responded to your post has.) I have always believed those folks who use profanity and name calling are not intelligent enough to otherwise defend their position and they are not worth your time.

      1. @Passing Gas, Rick is an idiot who thinks stealing is ok. NHL is merely pointing this out in a humourous way (which I found hilarious).

        You really ought to find out where along the way you lost your stench of humour.

        1. His humor disapated with his last brain cell during the pervious evacuation that he’ll blamed on the family dog.

          Passing by has just lost out by Passing Gas.. To late!

  6. so if apple copied googles Search algorithms this writer and Google will be happy right?

    manufacturers should be able to make clones of Intel chips, copies of Windows for free and I can copy this writers — Forbes – post and put my name on it and collect ad revenue right?

    according to this writer Forbes shouldn’t sue me for copying its articles instead they should just concentrate on CREATING NEW stuff (which I can also copy? ).

    1. I sense your sarcasm but I actually agree with your idea. I don’t think people should own intangabiles. The reason music piracy is more widely practiced than theft of physical CDs is not just to do with the chance of getting caught being lower it is also that it does not seem wrong to a lot of people. If Pythagoras refused to let anyone else use his method to calculate the height of a triangle from the length of the base and 2 known angles then where would we be?

  7. “Maybe if they were a bunch of losers whose design advantage had been unfairly appropriated and now they had no cash for the kids’ school fees, then there would be a cause for sympathy. But this is is the most valuable company in history. ”

    So copyright protection should only be extended to the unsuccessful? There is something very wrong with this line of thinking- that rule of law does not apply- sympathy should pick winners and losers, not the truth. This is a fundemental problem with western cultures: Success means you are evil and should be brought down. Here in Asia I do not see that as much. Success is considered something to strive for. Maybe that’s why countries here get more productive, while the West stagnates. Apple went from the margins to the richest company by designing products people enjoyed and wanted to buy. So now that makes them evil in the minds of journalists? Tell me, at what point in history did the design team go from brilliant and good to evil and pathetic? Was it the moment you wanted to buy their products? All Hail to the mediocre! Good luck with that line of thinking.

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