The importance of Apple v. Samsung patent case is that imitation is a winning strategy

“I think Florian Mueller has got it exactly right just here,” Tim Worstall writes for Forbes. “The whole point of the Apple v Samsung patents case (perhaps we should say cases) is that imitation is an entirely viable and profitable business strategy.”

“So, someone discovers something, invents something, and this is good. We’ve found a better way of doing something. At first sight we might then think that everyone copying them is just fine. For everyone is now using this new and better method: we’re all better off. However, here’s where the problem comes in. That first person, the inventor, has made some effort,” Worstall writes. “That effort has cost them time, effort and money. But because everyone can immediately copy her she cannot make any profit out of that effort expended.”

“Given that people often do (not always, but often) things in the hope of future profit this means that we think that there will be less effort devoted to invention than we might like,” Worstall writes. “Thus we stick a spanner to that copying machine. We give the first inventors an exclusive right over their inventions for some period of years. Not for all time, because we do indeed agree that at some point other people should be able to copy this lovely new method. But for some years so that we encourage people to do that new invention stuff to the benefit of us all. As Mueller says, imitation is a very effective business strategy, one that can rack up very large profits. This is precisely the point of intellectual property law, to make sure that pure imitation is not actually used as such a profitable business strategy.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Samsung to face allegations of copying Apple once again at next month’s damages retrial – October 19, 2013

55 Comments

    1. As a retired attorney retired after 30 years of law practice, I saw women come in as Judges and attorneys. I can state that clearly the average woman judge or attorney was more competent and worked harder in the profession. The best judges and attorneys I worked with were usually women.

      In my experience, women had to “try harder” to overcome initial resistance…and they did…and they still do.

    2. Vega51: No one says that crap around here. You have to be joking, incredibly stupid, or an incredible coward. And, if you don’t think men have their childish, stupid moments of FAIL and baby rage, you’re living an lala land.

      1. “No one says that crap around here.”

        Of course they do, and you’ve been frequenting this site long enough to know that. It’s pretty wide open here, unlike most forums. Anyone who is overly sensitive to insults towards gender, race, sexual persuasion, politics or religion probably shouldn’t be coming here.

        Most of these goofy comments are simply made to get a rise out of people and to start a wild and crazy thread. Please save the “politically correct” behavior and righteous indignation for places like MacWorld, although I wouldn’t recommend that waste of space to anyone.

        1. No, no one here denigrates women. No misogyny around here. That’s new. That’s ridiculous.

          Therefore, if you’ve got a problem with women, leave.

          And no ‘Realist’, this isn’t a ‘politically correct’ subject. It’s about being afraid of and hating over 50% of the human population. Not acceptable ever.

          As for trolling, which is the same as ‘goofy comment…made to get a rise out of people’, aka sadism, I’m an expert. This isn’t trolling. Look at you defending this asshole. This is a continuing problem that NEVER made any sense. I will vehemently point it out and call out women haters as what they are.

          Pathetic.

          1. It must be wonderful in your world of sunshine and lollipops Derek. Everyone holds hands and sings Kumbaya in a state of love and compassion, with no hate, strife or discord. And the best part is having a choice of driving a Toyota Prius or riding your pink unicorn. I envy you little man.

            1. Well, unfortunately for you, since you don’t run this site your opinion doesn’t mean jackshit. I’ll be looking forward to future posts from you, whiner.

  1. The only thing that would make this better is samsung being replaced by google.
    Even tho Koh has cut the damages from $1B, Florian Mueller has said before that after this trial there’s a good chance it will be higher.
    I hope samsung burn.

    1. Koh hasn’t cut the damages. The first jury estimated the damages wrong on the part she set aside at the first trial. The second trial is for a new jury to do the damage estimate right like the first jury should have done. Actually Apple may end up with more damages because of this. But Koh did not cut the damages. She wants the correct damages put in place for the 400 billion in question. Too many people think she cut the damages she did not. Hence the reason for the new trial to correctly calculate the damages in question.

        1. 17 years. And they can extend if they promise to do more research on use in children.

          Then, they change the delivery system for more time. Then go to court. Then buy out the generic companies version for six more months of profits. Then the drug cos. consolidate and raise prices on the generics by several hundred to a few thousand percent. (Actual example: doxycycline 100 mg caps used to sell wholesale for about $50.00 for 500 caps. Now they are cheap at $1,500.00 per 500.) you want to talk about price manipulation! This price change was essentially OVERNIGHT. There are numerous more examples.

  2. The truth of the matter is that everyone copies everyone else. There’s nothing really original any more. I remember the day Steve Jobs stood on the MacWorld stage in 2007 and introduced the iPhone. It stood out as the best of the best amongst the smartphones populating the telecommunications industry at that moment in time. It was a Steve Jobs original and incorporated ground breaking multi-touch technology that allowed your finger to be the stylus. All smartphones prior to the iPhone in 2007 used some sort of stylus which made it clumsy to operate and losing the stylus meant that you could not operate the phone to the best of its abilities. Buying and carrying spare styluses were the order of the day if you wanted to continue using the phone without fear of losing a stylus and rendering it inoperable. The first iPhone truly was groundbreaking technology.

    Now in 2013 a short 6 years after introducing the first iPhone, Apple has decided to turn back the clock to a time before 2007 where flat icons with washed out colors proliferated. Windows Mobile 6.5 looks positively attractive when compared to iOS 7 icons. Apple, since the death of Steve Jobs, has lost the lead in innovation and has found itself in the position of copying the efforts of its rivals like Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 and Google’s Android.

    To accuse Samsung of copying is like the pot calling the kettle black. It was true at one time when Steve Jobs was still alive that Apple was a true engine of innovation, but under Cook, copying all and sundry seems to be the order of the day. In sum, Apple post-Steve Job is the greatest copyist on earth, bar none. It’s a sad day indeed.

      1. This trial, as summarised by the headline, is copying to win. In other words using every means at a company’s disposal to copy another company’s efforts to get ahead.

        You can’t hold the high ground and accuse everyone around you of copying when you’re practising the same copying techniques yourself, viz. the iOS 7 icons.

        The bottom line is everyone copies everyone else. It’s the better product that will win. If you can’t win at the marketplace falling down to a less than 10% worldwide market share, you sue, that’s about the size of it.

        1. Yes but MAKE IT YOUR OWN. Apple has never bothered Microsoft who at least did their own take on a smart phone. And that’s the whole point – don’t copy, but it’s okay to steal great ideas but critically make them your own. Songwriters have long known this. Inspiration is great, copying is not.

        2. iOS 7 looks and feels considerably different from both Android and Windows Phone.

          Defending IP is what it’s all about if you’re a pacesetter. It’s a race, and while people are allowed to follow in your footsteps, they shouldn’t be pulling themselves by on your coat tails.

    1. What a waste of words. You recognize that Apple absolutely transformed the smartphone world six years ago, then attempt to convince us that flat icons in iOS 7 offset that genius and somehow bring Apple down to the level of its competitors. A lot of words, but little substance.

      1. Copying is not exclusively confined to Samsung. Apple practises the same copying techniques that it accuses others of when it suits them. If Samsung copied Apple, Apple copied Samsung’s TouchWiz with its atrocious iOS 7 icons. the swipe down notification center, and swipe up control center. Nothing new there that the jailbreak community has been giving iOS for ages.

        To get ahead you have to convince consumers that your products are worth the money they are paying for. If they’re buying Android ripoffs in the form of iOS 7, they will not be willing to pay a $250 premium for the iPhone. Hence Apple’s declining market share to single digit numbers.

        1. That is the stupidest thing I have ever read. Apple copied touchwiz? Touchwiz is a complete rip off of iOS. One of the documents presented at Apple vs Samsung trial where samsung was convicted of copying was an internal document from samsung showing how samsung was going to make there touchwiz interface more like apples. 132 pages of it comparing every single on board app in apples iOS to samsungs touchwiz version with notes on what to improve to “make it more like iOS”. Here is a link to samsungs egregious copying of iOS. http://bgr.com/2012/08/08/apple-samsung-patent-lawsuit-internal-report-copy-iphone/
          Remember too that it was evidence presented at trial. Before a judge. And samsung was convicted based on this evidence and other testimony.

          1. Don’t bother with these trolls. They are paid by Samsung’s marketing team to post these moral equivalance arguments. That Google’s and Samsung’s blatant IP theft and design counterfeiting of the most revolutionary tech invention from the past 20 years is the as Apple adding a notification center.

          2. we dont have to convince people who cannot see or understand. They are born to be like that… Apple copying TouchWiz is the hilarious part… why these people still supporting Samsung even after found guilty by courts and that too after seeing their great innovative product Gear?

        2. Funny these Fandroid trolls can’t even keep track of who invented what but in fact sees the Samsung ripoff, thinks it’s theirs and calls Apple the ripoff artist for “ripping off” their own tech! This is part of the insidiousness of Shamscum.

    2. Steve Jobs and Apple never copied, they “stole” great ideas and made them their own in ways not seen before – and that’s the trick and difference. This is based on a Picasso quote and last I checked Picasso’s “stolen” ideas didn’t result in virtual copying. It’s lame this has to be pointed out again and again to the uneducated ignorati looking for a fast disingenuous argument that doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

      1. This is really the crux of it all.

        “Steal” ideas.
        Create significantly improved, specific implementations.
        Patent those specific implementations.

        Ideas are a dime a dozen. Everyone has ideas. Ideas cannot be copyrighted. Ideas cannot be trademarked. Ideas cannot be patented.

        Specific implementations of those ideas — especially ones that take the ideas to much higher levels of refinement and usefulness — can be copyrighted and/or patented.

        Apple didn’t “invent” the smartphone. No one — NO ONE — invented THE smartphone. The smartphone is an idea that had many, many very, very poor implementations before the iPhone was introduced. The iPhone was a *specific* implementation (with many, many specific implementations within it) that was significantly better than anything that came before it. Apple patented many of those specific implementations.

        Apple never claimed it invented the smartphone. No one with even 1/4 of a brain would honestly claim that Apple invented the smart phone.

        What Apple invented was a specific set of implementations that were (and still are, for the most part) better than anything that came before it. Those specific implementations, once patented, are Apple’s to control and/or license at Apple’s sole discretion.

        That’s the way patent law is supposed to work.

        The fact that competitors can copy Apple’s patented implementations and sell products based upon that copying — and get away with it for many, many years — is just asinine. Even in the final analysis, if Samsung has to pay Apple $2 Billion USD for its blatant copying, Samsung has already made a lot more than that by doing the copying and delaying the final trial results for several years.

        Unfortunately, because the court system moves so glacially (might I say glacially is too fast an adjective, seems more like tectonic movement) a blatant copier can make many billions before brought to justice and having to pay for their copying — then finally paying out only a fraction of their ill gotten profits.

    3. You are sadly mistaken. When this came to trial iOS7 was not even in alpha stages. It was not available to developers too so your whole argument is moot. Apple does not copy microsoft samsung or anyone else. If they did they would be in court right now with microsoft or samsung over ui design patents and last time I looked no one is sue Apple over ui design patents. Samsung is suing Apple with standards essential patents and losing horribly.

      1. Apple and Microsoft have a huge, very pervasive cross licensing deal on their intellectual property. Apple and Samsung do not.

        Samsung is suing Apple (and losing) because Samsung is not following the FRAND rules on SEPs. So far it appears as though Samsung has no patents Apple wants to use other than the SEPs. Once Samsung realizes it *MUST* follow FRAND rules the whole attack Samsung is trying against Apple will go away. Apple will pay FRAND licensing fees, and that specific set of arguments becomes a non issue.

    4. Ecee, you could at least get your trolling arguments consistent. One of the chief whinges is regarding the flat, gaudy childish colours, now you’re whining about flat, washed-out colours. Which is it?
      It isn’t the colours of iOS 7 that’s childish, it’s the continual snivelling and whining that gets posted on here, it’s like having to live in a kindergarten full of five year olds denied their party treats.

  3. The great companies that exist do so because of terrific long term strategies, not single products.

    Apple under Steve Jobs looked out 2-3 decades ahead and saw the day that the Dick Tracy wristwatch would be practical. What they also saw, though, was that a wristwatch was not enough in many ways. You needed a whole ecosystem of backend services, software and other consumer devices to support the watch.

    Samsung didn’t look at it that way. They didn’t develop a whole product line and elaborate back end system to support their customers, which includes developers, like Apple did.

    Patents cover specific features and only rarely a whole new never seen before device. What that means is Samsung had every opportunity to design the innovations that would go beyond what Apple released & trump Apple. Samsung wasn’t smart enough or committed enough to do that.

    Samsung is not getting traction with high end iPhone/iPad users by what I see. Nor are they getting any respect from teenagers, who set their buying habits for much of the rest of their life once they find a truly great product.

    Hence, lack of innovation gets Samsung the bottom of the barrel.

    1. Samsung is a market reactionary me-too tech company, not an innovating visionary with long term aspirations since they KNOW they’re just no good at that. Much cheaper to use Apple as their R&D dept. Their Galaxy Gear was an attempt to outfox Apple and up that perception of being innovators but in the end did themselves far more harm than good as it proved the Seoul Emperor has no clothes, or ability to be first. Just another company without a clue how to design a new class of product.

  4. Have you heard of Dyson? They are a british outfit who make innovative high design products. They make an amazing restroom hand dryer but they are best known for bagless vacuum cleaners. Guess what, Samsung are being sued by Dyson for stealing their patented designs.

    Samsung are an embarrassment to the South Korean state, or should be…

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