Samsung: The surprise leader in design patents

“Design is increasingly important in unlocking value in technology (think the iPhone) but the design patent is the battleground where this new value is defended (as in the Apple vs Samsung patent dispute),” Haydn Shaughnessy reports for Forbes. “Design patent grants are increasing in number each year as the shape or appearance of a product becomes as defensible as the technology that makes it work.”

“For the past two years though there has been a surprising leader in design patent grants,” Shaughnessy reports. “Apple is the king of design patent exploitation but Samsung is the busier of the two.”

Shaughnessy reports, “It comes as a surprise to learn that Samsung, not Apple, was the leading grantee of design patents awarded by the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2012. It also topped the list in 2011. Remember, Samsung suffered a heavy defeat to Apple over design patent infringement in 2012 but it has proved to be a far more aggressive design patent applicant than Apple.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As with Apple vs. all comers in the smartphone, tablet, portable media player, and personal computer markets, so goes it with “design” patents: Quality vs. quantity.

We’d bet our Macs that nobody would want to infringe on the vast majority of Samsung’s design patents. If they weren’t interested in numbers for numbers’ sake, Samsung wouldn’t need patent protection for whatever fugliness they’re excreting.

We’re sure Microsoft has plenty of design patents for the Zune, too.

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


  1. Functionality, small size and reliability over a long period of time are going to trump whizee corners and radii on handheld devices.

    Initial Android buyers switch to Apple at about 3 times the rate of initial Apple buyers moving to Android. Tells you something.

  2. I’m not surprised ! The Galaxy S4 is loaded with all kinds of super-grade crap .

    Eyeball scrolling is a complete joke ! it makes the screen stutter like it was just pulled out of the ocean

    1. Exactly. The writer from Forbes didn’t even list the compelling amazing Samsung Patents. You know the one that detects the body odor of the person you meet so that his or her name automatically pops up on the screen, just in case you forgot. How about the Fart detector. It calculates the age of the person so your Samsung phone suggest if he or she is related to you or just a complete stranger. 😉

  3. There’s a gulf of difference between filing a patent and translating that patent to well designed, usable products. I would say that Apple’s obsessive attention to detail and use of quality components is the supreme execution of those patents.

    Filing a patent in my opinion is the equivalent of tying your shoelaces before running a major race. Breasting the finishing tape first is the crux of the race.

  4. I am curious if they lumped all design patents relating to phones or just Samsung as a whole. Samsung has design patents for a fugly house design. Of course Samsung would again choose “Quanity” over quality of design patents and he CEO is probably running around the board room like Ballmer yelling “We have MORE, We have MORE!” Damn SHARE issues by Samsung!

    1. Precisely- Samesong is a diverse manufacturing outfit, so, they probably have tons of patents on stuff like refrigerator motor mounts, and temperature sensors for ovens, and rotation controls for clothes dryers, capisce?

  5. Most patent systems, for many reasons, have ceased to be a valuable innovation-driving mechanism. Way too much gaming, corruption, and just plain incompetence. Many patented “ideas” are neither novel, nor new, nor functional. Patents offer no real protection to the small inventor, as the rich competitor can always find a loophole to copy, patent, and exploit. … and all this assumes that we’re dealing in a world where there is a functioning legal systemt. In most of the world, this is not the case. Western corporations now choose to manufacture the majority of their products in nations where there are no true legal protections. The minute Apple started making products in China, the photocopiers went into hyper-drive, and there’s nothing anyone outside the Party could do to stop it — short of Apple getting smarter about its outsourcing.

    So, now one of Apple’s former and current suppliers has decided to take on Apple directly. Why should we be surprised that now Samsung can to everything Apple can do? Apple taught them everything they knew. Western corporations are sleeping in the bed they made themselves.

    I don’t like anything about Samsung, and just counting patents is only one measurement of innovation, but facts are facts. Apple isn’t out-competing Samsung in many ways. This is one of them.

    … and yes, I know that is unpopular to state reality here at athe Church of Apple. But it needs to be said. There are WAY too many people here blindly worshiping a company that isn’t performing at the same level it was just a few years ago. When people like me point out stuff like this, and urge Apple to fix its problems, then comes the barrage of personal attacks, Cook excuses, subject-switching, and ignorance parades.

    As multi-decade Mac user, I have long found that Mac users were more discerning, objectively fact-driven, and open-minded. This site often exposes the complete opposite. Apple needs more decisive leadership to get back on track, and the world needs much improved patent systems.

  6. This write up from Haydn Shaughnessy of Forbes is so off base it’s not even funny.

    Does this fool really think that all Samsung steals and produces just Phone design’s.

    To make this real short and to the point, Samsumg Manufactures everything from ABC blocks to Zero Defrost Refrigeration Systems, NO comparison at all can be made unless you separate the Mobile and phone patents From all the other thousand of items Samsung produces.

    This isn’t a story and is just typical Forbes click bait.

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