U.S. federal court rules anyone can copy the iPhone’s design

“Apple did such a good job designing its iPhone that it now can’t protect itself from copycats,” Hope King reports for CNNMoney.

“A federal appeals court on Monday ruled that Apple could not seek damages from Samsung for copying the basic design of the iPhone, overturning a lower court’s ruling,” King reports. “Apple had argued that Samsung’s smartphones violated the company’s design patents, because they looked so remarkably similar: a rectangular body, rounded edges, and even the placement of apps and dots on the screen.”

King reports, “Yet the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that the overall ‘look’ of the iPhone is so integral to the way other touchscreen smartphones work that Apple can’t prevent Samsung (and probably other companies) from using the same general designs.”

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s products came first, then Samsung’s:
Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Tab Trade Dress Infringement

Here’s what Google’s Android looked like before and after Apple’s iPhone:
Google Android before and after Apple iPhone

Here’s what cellphones looked like before and after Apple’s iPhone:
cellphones before and after Apple iPhone

Related articles:
Up to 40 percent of Apple’s $930 million verdict against Samsung must be reconsidered – May 18, 2015
US appeals court reverses part of Apple’s $930 million verdict vs. Samsung – May 18, 2015


  1. The ruling is not going to stop Apple from absolutely dominating the whole smartphone industry’s super majority of profits.

    Apple and the low end mfgrs in China are rendering Samsung close to being another Palm/Nokia has-been.

      1. Apple “is capturing more than 90 percent of the profits of the whole industry” from Feb 2015 CNBC note (taken from Cannacord analysis, I think.)

        10% of the profits left over for Samsung, Moto, Google, LG in the high-end smartphone segment doesn’t leave anything but scraps for Samsung from their iPhone clones.

        Samsung may be earning giant profits, but not from high end smartphones.

          1. It sounds like bullshit to me. Just because one company came out with the ideal product does not mean that every other company can I copy it with impunity. Apple worked very hard to come up with this design and they should be rewarded for it.

    1. Based on their logic, the copycats should be able to steal iOS, the logo and everything else, since that’s the standard of phones and tablets, I shudder to say it, but at least M$ went a different path with their tablet,

    1. I agree. This is a dark day indeed.

      There has never been legal precedent for any US company’s product being “so good” that is exempt from the protection of patent law, including trade dress infringement. This absolutely ludicrous ruling is tantamount to simply ignoring all law pertaining to trademarks and patents.

      Make no mistake about it: the judges involved were bought. An investigation into their personal finances is warranted based on this ruling. But I suspect this will not even register as a blip on the radar screen of the national media, much less the FBI.

    2. FYI for all of the non-lawyers on this forum. The ruling has a point. In intellectual property law a general technology cannot be protected. The box as a general concept cannot be patented but say, a type of box from Tupperware can be. Can the general technology of a flat, touch screen phone be held for 17 years from all? Interesting question, and the answer is yes, no, and maybe. Can innovations on a flat, touch screen phone be patented, certainly.

      1. That’s generally okay, but it begs the question then of why there’s patent protection that supposedly covers this design aspect.

        Further, it also ignores how … if the design was so obvious … then why I one else had anything close until Apple did it?

        1. “if the design was so obvious … then why I one else had anything close until Apple did it?! That’s exactly why this legal question does not have a clear answer from the courts. The answer Samsung, etc. would like is that touch screen wasn’t available in affordable quantities before, but now that market has spoken that this is almost exclusive answer people want (touch screen), “How can Apple patent pushing on a flat surface?”

    1. The legal system is ridiculous. It’s 50% show business. Seriously? Guy dresses in a bathrobe and everyone stands up, being sworn in on irrelevant bibles that nobody has read since the 1900’s, complete jokes standing in as the jury. Can’t wait for AI to take over the world.

  2. it most certainly was not integral to the smartphone look and feel until apple did it. these judges have no sense of history. i fail to see how this alleged logic of theirs can stand up to an appeal.

    1. Justice was thrown out long ago; now it is all political agenda. Courts have decided how the world should be and they are going to “interpret” laws however necessary to reach that destination.

  3. Maybe Apple could get back at the US by launching it’s next big device overseas, letting the rest of the world have access way before us and keeping the money offshore.

  4. Think of all the products this ruling destroys.
    If you are Ford, your Mustang can be copied.
    If you are Porche, your 9-11 is now in jeopardy.
    If you make the Corvette, all of your design patents are garbage.
    The entire Court of Appeals is officially insane. They don’t care about creativity or original design. Boy does this ruling finish off my respect for judges.

    1. You don’t get look and feel. Imagine if the gear shifter in all manual cars were proprietary. What if No two cars had first gear in the same positon? How dangerous would that be? That is the reason, everyone agrees to do things in the same way. By the way, Apple bor rowed lots of look and feel from others too…Karma.

      1. The difference is that some UI’s effectively became Public Domain because it’s originator never sought legal IP protection. In IT, the classical example is VisiCalc.

  5. How can the court prove that there could be no other way to design the look of the phone and OS? I think it’s time for some of these talented people that design mock ups of what future iPhone will look like to show what an Samsung phone would look like that would look very different to Apple’s design. Instead of dots on the main screen representing secondary screens, how about a scrollbar? Palm’s WebOS looked very different than Apple and functioned fine. It is possible for a smartphone to look different than Apple’s version. Why don’t judges see that?

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