So it looks like Samsung might not have tried to copy the iPhone

Previously redacted documents presented in the Apple-Samsung case seem not to offer actual evidence that Samsung told its designers to copy the iPhone.

An original or a copy?

You remember the recent court case in which a vast amount of money was awarded to Apple?

Yes, the one in which Samsung was told to hand over $1.05 billion because quite a few of its products seemed to infringe on Apple's patents.

Well, those who like poring over these things have been spending long and, no doubt, sober nights examining the documents that were presented to the court -- documents that have now been unredacted.

What odd suggestions these documents make.

I am grateful to Groklaw for reading and reading and reading until its eyeballs were larger and more oblong than a Galaxy S3 screen.

Much of its reading seems to center on personal information about jury foreman Velvin Hogan and his bankruptcy issues.

However, the part that fascinated me concerned the allegations that Samsung might have told its designers to "make something like the iPhone."

Groklaw locates the fuller version of the Samsung internal documents in question and something peculiar appears. The senior executive at Samsung who presided over internal meetings actually is heard to say: "I hear things like this: Let's make something like the iPhone."

He goes on to lament: "When everybody (both consumers and the industry) talk about UX, they weigh it against the iPhone. The iPhone has become the standard. That's how things are already."

And yet there appear to be no words that suggest the iPhone is to be copied.

Instead, one document ends with: "To everyone, he said you must think at least six months ahead; be the solution to the problems that related departments come looking for. Be people with creativity."

The document is full of exhortation to do better and to focus on "comfort and ease of use." Some would say that defines the iPhone.

Yet there seems no actual, well, evidence that there was a "copy Cupertino" order.

Indeed, Groklaw unearths further notes from the same meeting which say, for example:

Designers rightly must make their own designs with conviction and confidence; do not strive to do designs to please me (the president); instead make designs with faces that are creative and diverse.

Yes, there is mention of "a crisis of design." And, indeed, here is another phrase that might, for some, suggest a deeply iPhonic implication: "In regards to exteriors, do your best not to create a plastic feeling and instead create a metallic feel."

And yet, at the same time, there is the push toward what is now seen in the Galaxy S3: "Our biggest asset is our screen. It is very important that we make screen size bigger, and in the future mobile phones will absorb even the function of e-books."

How, then, could anyone imply that this was an exhortation to copy the iPhone, if Samsung executives were clear that a larger screen could be their brand differentiator?

Groklaw suggests, rather shockingly, that Apple's lawyers might have been a little selective in how they presented some of this evidence to the court, by picking little parts of it that offered a different shade of nuance.

The part about asking designers to be creative was allegedly omitted, for example.

I know that this one will run and run like a mediocre musical on Broadway. There's that awful mixture of pride, ego and (current and future) money at stake.

But there remain some lay observers who really do look at some of the Apple-Samsung product comparisons and wonder just how much intention to copy there really might have been.

 

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