Apple hammers 'copycat' theme with more internal docs

Another set of internal Samsung usability reviews have been unearthed that show the company had its eye on Apple's features.

CNET
Note: This story was originally published at 11:52 a.m. PT. It was republished at 8:17 p.m. PT with embedded documents, which were released in the evening.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Additional internal Samsung documents suggesting that the company looked to Apple for examples of how to enhance the features of its mobile devices were made public today.

During the testimony of Ravin Balakrishnan, a professor in the department of computer science at the University of Toronto, Apple brought out two of Samsung's internal usability studies -- one for a smartphone (see the first embedded document below, "Behold3 Usability Evaluation Results") and another for a tablet (see the second doc below, "P5 Usability Evaluation Results") -- with direct instructions to mimic Apple's software features.

One study dealt directly with Samsung's Vibrant smartphone, then code-named the Behold 3. The other focused on a preproduction model of Samsung's Galaxy Tab device, with comparisons to Apple's iPad 2. Both reference a particular gesture behavior, a "bounce back" effect, something outlined in Apple's '381 patent. In its complaint, Apple has accused Samsung of directly infringing on it.

In his testimony, Balakrishnan said that was, in fact, the case with 21 of Samsung's devices.

"It's very clear to me from the documents that Samsung studied this problem, recognized limitations of its current design in comparison to what the iPhone and iPad were doing, and recognized that the iPhone and iPad had a better solution," Balakrishnan told the court. "In subsequent versions of those phones in the market, that exact same functionality has been implemented."

While questioning Balakrishnan, Samsung demoed a handful of videos that showed some of the accused devices without the behavior, at least in certain applications. Balakrishnan said that much of the infringement was found in the gallery application, the one that let users view and manipulate photos, and sometimes went to others, including the Web browser and contact list.

The documents are the latest to suggest that Samsung evaluated Apple's technology while looking for features to add to its own devices. A previously revealed document covered a preproduction version of Samsung's Galaxy S1 phone and had a similar format, with side-by-side shots of the two interfaces, and a special section at the bottom of each page with "directions for improvement."

In this case, some apps got more attention than others, for their viability in using a given feature. Apple's attorneys pointed to one page in particular, where adding a bounce back effect to the Web browser was marked as "serious," with another app labeled as "critical." In another part of the document, there's even a side note that there were plans to add it.

"In other words, they intend to look at the functionality," Balakrishnan said.

Balakrishnan noted that the '381 patent had been an important development for maneuvering on touch-screen devices, since it solved two problems "elegantly." That included what Balakrishnan referred to as "freezing," and "desert fog." Freezing was when users would believe there was something wrong with their device when attempting to scroll beyond an area that was no longer scrollable, whereas desert fog was when users would end up scrolling outside the boundaries of an image, and wind up unable to find their way back.

Later in the day yet another document was cited, in the testimony of Karan Singh, who, like Balakrishnan, is a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto and has been tapped by Apple to examine Samsung's devices for infringement (see third embedded document below, "Browser Zooming Methods UX Exploration Study"). Singh said that infringement on a pair of Apple's patents covering scrolling and zooming, and double tapping, was seen on both Samsung's smartphones and tablets.

To illustrate the point, myriad videos were shown depicting the behavior on various devices. Apple also brought out an internal Samsung study from 2009 called "Browser Zooming Methods UX Exploration Study." Like the other studies, it included side-by-side examinations of behaviors, with suggestions on how to change what Samsung currently had. One of the pages that was called out noted that the company needed to "supplement" double tapping to zoom. Singh noted that before that, users were expected to hold their finger on an area for a few seconds to zoom in and out.

Apple said it intends to run through the rest of its witnesses by the end of the day, or early next week. After that, it's Samsung's turn to take the offensive with its own witnesses. So far Samsung has burned up nearly 10 hours of its allotted 25 hours of court time cross-examining Apple's witnesses.

Here are the documents in full:

46 57 38

Update, 2:15 p.m. PT: Adds information on testimony of Karan Singh.

Update, 8:17 p.m. PT: Embeds documents mentioned in story.

 

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