back to article Samsung threatens Apple in response to patent lawsuit

Korean electronics giant Samsung has responded to Apple's patent-infringment lawsuit against them. As might be guessed, they're not happy – and they're considering legal retaliation. "Samsung will respond actively to this legal action taken against us through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property," a …


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  1. Michael Johnson 1


    What's Apple going to go after next, my Western Digital hard drive, my old Linksys routers, or even the fridge in my office? All are rounded rectangles in shape.

  2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    "Beyond common sense"

    That about sums it up. It's getting so ridiculous that someone likely could patent a paving slab, house brick, teapot, knife, fork or spoon, and sue everyone else for infringing. Your sugar cubes are the same shape as my sugar cubes, you bastard!

    I suspect antennagate wasn't a cock-up, just the only way Apple could use an aerial without risking infringing someone else's patent.

  3. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

    Ah, this shit just got interesting.

    I shall go and put on some pop-corn, I think.

    Just imagine if Samsung decide to take their ball and go home. What would Apple make their devices from then?


    1. John Bailey

      Well obviously...

      Sunshine and lollipops like they always have.

      1. The lone lurker


        Samsung would simply just keep on selling to Foxconn, Pegatron or any of the other myriad chinese production companies that do production work for Apple.

        Profit is profit... especially in Asia

        1. Grease Monkey Silver badge


          Who says they intend to stop selling? There's all sorts of other things they could do; Put their prices up; Stop selling direct and the prices to Apple will go up as they have to pay the middle man's market; or they could restrict supply. Sure Apple could find an alternative supplier, but it would take time.

          Remember there's nothing in law that says Samsung *have* to sell to Apple or their manufacturers.

          1. RichyS

            @Grease Monkey

            "Remember there's nothing in law that says Samsung *have* to sell to Apple or their manufacturers."

            You mean, other than existing contracts?

            It's not like Apple go round to the nearest Samsung depot with a shopping trolley to pick up their parts. These guys have supply contracts. You can't break those for no good reason without serious repercussions.

  4. Muckminded


    I expect this to go as well as Apple's claims against Microsoft in the early 1990s pertaining to the Mac OS look-and-feel versus Windows'. The net result of which was that MS had to rename their waste basket icon from "Trash" to "Recycle Bin". There must be a better way of funneling money to needy lawyers than this.

    Apple is proving as adept at generating ill will as Dubya was.

  5. ChaosFreak

    Apple: Shut up and innovate advertisement accompanying this article for the LG Optimus phone, which looks just like the Samsung and Apple phones. Maybe a rounded rectangle is just the natural shape for a mobile phone?

    All that will come of this lawsuit is that Apple's patents will be nullified as being either too broad/general or derivative of previous works. Apple needs to learn that the way to compete is to be innovative yourselves, not to stilfe the innovation of your competitors through frivolous lawsuits.

    1. RichyS

      I think that's the point

      I had a number of smartphones from Sony Ericsson, Handspring, and HTC (not branded HTC at the time). All of them looked very different to the iPhone. All of them were ergonomically a bit of a mess (vestigial keyboard on the SE P910i, I'm looking at you) with poor integration between hardware and software (anything HTC and WinMob).

      Since the iPhone, pretty much every smartphone has looked like the iPhone.


      1. g e


        The screens are only made in certain shapes and, to be fair, I think Samsung will have the patents and IP for those.

        No-one's going to put a rectangular screen in a square phone and phones have never had sharp corners so the rounded corner thing is mullered on prior art.

        Apple are ever-increasingly comical and pathetic in equal measure. So glad they make nothing I want.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Go Samsung!

    All they have to do is stop supplying Apple and they win. Apple could go to an alternative supplier but that will months to arrange and get factories ready to manufacture. In that time, no iphones to be sold, no ipads, no Apple Tvs, no macbooks as Samsung make key parts for every one of those product lines. How much will Apple lose in 2months? 4 months? Samsung might take a hit, but nowhere near as badly as Apple

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Great plan

      Except where is Samsung going to find a customer to use their production capacity and spend $8 billion? Maybe not the brightest move.

    2. Ammaross Danan

      Don't forget

      There would also be a significant price bump since Apple would be out in the cold and any potential supplier would know that they could take Apple to the cleaners on pricing, just for the privilege of doing business with them. No deal? No products. Ouch. Shoe meet other foot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        More like out in the sunshine @Ammaross

        Just last month Apple and TSMC announced foundry ties.

        Apple hardly needs Samsung anymore, actually TSMC probably will give a better service long term as they have highest chip yields at the current 40nm and the resources to go down to 28nm.

        You think Apple would throw this lawsuit out in the open if they didn't have the plan in place already?

        Suggestion to commenters, don't let your hateboism cloud your good judgement. It just looks silly.

        1. JarekG

          RE: "....out in the open if they didn't have the plan in place already?"

          "You think Apple would throw this lawsuit out in the open if they didn't have the plan in place already?"

          Yes they would. After all they say there is nothing wrong with iPhone 4 (other than you can't make a call...but hey people don't get that device to make calls....look at the games you can play on your "no phone" phone.

          So ya they would.

          Like the old saying "What goes around come around (sometimes twice for Apple)".

          Is this the begging of the end?

          As your self this, what company would want to deal with another that may take them to court?

          Would you? If the answer is yes, you are an iDiot sir/madam..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            They're Idiots

            "You think Apple would throw this lawsuit out in the open if they didn't have the plan in place already?"

            Yes I do, because they have a history of bringing stupid law suits. Look at the money they wasted going after Microsoft.

            The whole "look and feel" thing got blown out of the water years ago. And as for patenting the shape of a phone? I don't think that passes the tests required for a valid patent. Apple had better hope that the end result of this is that only the stupid parts of that patent get annulled. It would be hilarious if the whole patent got annulled just because they were trying to sue based on the shape of the product.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Well yes I would, since it's only If I changed my products to copy the ideas my $8 bil customer had that I'd expect to get sued.

            Last time I checked you can make calls on the iPhone 4, but it's pointless to tell you that seeing you have your head so far up Google's ass you can grab tonsils.

            Maybe get out and try smelling reality some day.

            1. JarekG

              RE: " have your head so far up Google's ass.."

              I don't own any Android devices, I have (unlucky me) iPhone as you can see sonny I'm talking from experience. Now go on and have a glass of Kool-Aid, that should make you feel better.

    3. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Go Samsung!

      Better tactic.

      Add 0.2 cents to the price of every component sold to Apple or an Apple OEM and use the proceeds to fund their own legal costs.

      Poetic justice, the best sort.

    4. It wasnt me
      Thumb Down

      Be realistic

      You don't suppose that Apple have a contract with Samsung, with massive penalties for late deliveries do you ? It would be a foolish business that didn't protect its supply chain through legally enforceable contracts.

      The best Samsung could do would be to not enter into any further contracts, but then, why would they bite the hand that feeds them?

      This legal spat is a completely different issue.

  7. peter 45

    Look right =====>

    See the new LG Optimus 2x dual core review on this page

    - Rectangular design...check

    - Rounded edges...check

    - Black surround...check

    Just had a look at my Wife's Motorola Defy

    - Rectangular design...check

    - Rounded edges...check

    - Black surround...check

    Anyone seen the pictures of the new HTC Leo?

    - Rectangular design...check

    - Rounded edges...check

    - Black surround...check

    Boy is Apple going to be busy spending all those revenue billions on lawyers in the next few years.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      My arse after I just shat out a Rubik's cube

      - Rectangular design...check

      - Rounded edges...check

      - Black surround...check

      (mods: will understand if you don't want to post this one!)

      The point is that "being box-like with rounded edges" is not a patentable invention.

  8. Alan Denman

    A clever tactic with an inevitable switch to a cheaper supplier,

    There is a mass of manufacturers with fabs to make ARM chips with Samsung being the most prestigious.

    Choice means low prices both for the consumer and Apple so maybe moving away from 'copycat Samsung' now becomes a point of principle rather than just to a 'cheap as chips' new supplier.

    1. JarekG

      RE: "...switch to a cheaper supplier"

      Ever heard the old saying "You get what you pay for?". No, look it up you know what I mean.

      1. envmod


        are you mentally ill?

  9. Paul Shirley

    iPhone: as pictured in a PCW issue last century

    I'm still trying to track down an article from Personal Computer World sometime in the 80s/90s with their idea of what a future pocket PC would look like. What the came up with was a glass fronted slab, same size as an iPhone, same shape as an iPhone, same grid of icons interface as an iPhone.

    I believe they even mentioned convergence with phones which would make what they did actually an iPhone!

    If anyone can find this elusive article it could easily destroy Apple's claims, leaving just the trade dress issues. Given Samsung seem to have dressed up the Android interface with iPhone graphics they're screwed on that lesser charge. Would be nice to end the rest of the bullshit though.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Translation problem

    I think there was another mistranslation, like the Samsung Tab returns statement.

    Samsung actually meant to say they will "respond softly" to Apple's claims.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    One rectangle looks pretty much the same as another...

    So sue me!

    Coming from the company who stole their entire UI ethos from Xerox PARC, and who got smacked down for look-and-feel suits back in the '80s because they didn't invent it in the first place, they've got a bloody nerve.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      When Will it End...?!

      Look, everyone and their dog knows that Apple _PAID_ Xerox PARC to licence their UI, so please stop spreading that well-beaten FUD.

      As for the look-and-feel lawsuit against Microsoft, Apple did indeed lose. However, the judgement was that _COPYRIGHT_ was not the appropriate method for protecting a UI design. That is why the current lawsuit alleges infringements of _PATENTS_ and _TRADE_DRESS_.

      (apologies for the _SHOUTING_ but El Reg doesn't allow bold words)

      1. system

        Everyone and their dog?

        Maybe you should tell Xerox about it, what with them having sued Apple over the GUI.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RE: Everyone and their dog?

          And that was laughed out of court! Xerox were given pre IPO stock option in return for the tour. As for the invention of the GUI there are two names, look 'em up; Douglas Engelbart and Ivan Sutherland. While you are at it, look up "the mother of all demos" too...

  12. loopy lou

    Rounded rectangles

    And don't those Korean's look a lot like us in Cupertino too? Two arms, legs, same way of moving.... Wow! why didn't we see it before? Lets get a patent and sue the socks off them. My god, socks, they wear socks. Blatant copying! Quick, get a patent on socks and go after them..

    1. LaeMing

      Koreans wearing socks to work.

      That would be a Trade Dress violation, for sure.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think in Korean it means give Apple that discount on the $8 billion they spend on us. Sammy would be grasping at straws to have anything to retaliate with, not to mention how a Korean vs American company lawsuit would work out in a US court.

    And come on guys admit Touchwiz 3.0 has so much copied over from iOS it actually hurts. Have you looked at Samsung phones pre- and post Phone? Stop pretending they didn't actually copy anything. If what they copied amounts to being illegal or not is up to the courts to decide.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Symbian IOS ?

      So the Samsung copies a lot of the IOS interface, so what ? The IOS in turn took a lot of ideas from previous generations, dont recall anyone suing them over that ! Have a look at some of the design elements that the original Psion (later Symbian) and Palm devices were using long before the fruity ones had thought of building a phone. Maybe that was the problem, Palm et al didnt 'patent' their ideas and so lost out. As to the 'rectangle with rounded corners' joke, that sounds exactly like the Palm III I still have lying around somewhere, which predates the iPhone by a few years.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And why is that @AC 21:10?

        I suppose you don't hear about lawsuits over those ideas because:

        1) Apple has actually licensed the technology. You think that would show up on the news?

        2) They have cross-patent agreements

        I don't buy it for a second that Palm didn't patent their ideas. Palm, like any sizeable IT company, has a huge patent portfolio. Why do you think HP paid $1.2 billion for them? Just the brand name?

  14. L1feless

    Wait for it....

    I find Samsung's response to Apple's suit just Magical! Dramatically Magical! I think Apple's Chip wizard's will agree with me.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Not sure if this has been posted but here's a good blow by blow analysis of Apple's lawsuit against Samsung:

    also includes a link to the actual court documents (I don't get why this isn't included in most news sites)

  16. Philip Lewis

    Blatant copy

    Here is a reality check. Samsung and the other asian manufacturers copy and enhance others' designs and tech. That is the state of play. Samsung copied the iPhone shape and UI without really disguising this obvious fact.

    Can APPLE dfend that in court? No idea. But given the "similarity", it seems worth a shot.

    I would be pissed off if I created an iconic item, and some far eastern manufacturer just copied it too!


  17. Old Cynic

    mmmm anyone remember the prada Phone?


    Rectangular phone with rounded corners.....check

    Black bezel.....check

    full screen touch......check


    Purchased months before the iphone was launched.....oh yes.

    I'm not saying it's better than the jesus device, but sure looks close.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      LG threatening to sue Apple over it... check

      However it never actually came to it. I wonder why... maybe there's the clue.

      1. Angus 2


        And that clue would be what?

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Jobs Horns

          Re: @+++atho

          That LG realised that it was an incredibly fucking dumb thing to do as they wouldn't stand a cat in hell's chance of winning a suit based on; "Wah, wah wah, their toy looks a bit like our toy."?

          But they don't have an addiction to frivolous patents, a hard-on for sueing world+dog using same, a team of the most rapacious legal sharks in the business on the payroll, a total ethics bypass and $40bn in cash lying around spare to be spent on chucking daft lawsuits around.......

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          El Reg readers should be intelligent enough to figure it out. It's to do with money.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          I'll give you another hint. Find out who makes displays for Apple...

          1. Angus 2


            Right, so nothing actually to do with the merits of the case then, which is what I thought you were suggesting, rather they were worried they would lose a customer.

  18. Barrie Shepherd
    Thumb Down


    It's a shame that the detailed scrutiny that company lawyers apply to enforcing the wildest patent claims is not exercised by the Patent Office when they assess the patent application in the first place.

    I fail to see how a "Button" (rounded corners square or any other shape) can be patentable given that it seems every conceivable shape of button already exists - look at the buttons that operate a lift, industrial controls, microwaves etc. all have similar buttons of many shapes. All Apple seem to have done is copy an existing shape and put it on a screen.

    I see nothing "original" in any of the Apple buttons and icons, Green has been used as "Go" for dialling in many systems, the telephone handset is an international symbol, I have a calculator from the 80's with nice rounded corners and a chrome / bright metal trim.

  19. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    If it comes to a slog out

    my money would be on Samsung.

    Apple has a limited number of income generating products. Samsung's portfolio is huge.

    Sir Jobs might think he has a lot of money sloshing around, but I understand Samsung has about 4 times as much.

    In a patent match Apple might be able to threaten less than 10% of Samsung's business. Samsung might threaten most of Apple's.

  20. Chris 171
    Jobs Horns

    Talk about...

    Biting the hand that feeds you! nobbers.

  21. Scots_muso


    How is it that nobody has, so far, linked up the fact that the Samsung interface was actually designed, and built, by Picsel Technologies?*

    Picsel, in their dying days, launched a patent suit against Apple alleging that Apple had infringed _their_ copyright. This seems to be very much related:

    * Or, rather, by Picsel Technology Research. Or perhaps Picsel Research Labs. Or perhaps Picsel (UK) Technologies Research and Development. Whichever of their pseudo companies they chose to hide behind when they ran out of money to pay their working staff, but had enough left to make sure that "invisible employees" (i.e. family members) were sorted out. Grr. Anyway... 1p in the pound means I should get £90 for three months work in 2009 sometime in 2011. Seems fair enough?

    (Coming across as a bit miffed? Sorry about that)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Prior Art

    I give you the IBM Simon, circa 1992. Notice the rounded edges of the phone, the rectangular shape with an earpiece at the top and a microphone at the bottom and a black surround. Gaze at the awesomeness of the TOUCH SCREEN ICONS* with ROUNDED* edges. Gasp at the convienient layout of the customisable 4 QUICK ACCESS ICONS AT THE BOTTOM* giving immediate access to the most used functions like telephone, messaging and calendar. Be amazed by its ability to perform not just phone and fax functions, but PDA functions as well. Predictive text when typing makes sending sms messages simple and it's expandable too with a built in PCMCIA interface allowing for third party applications. It also has games to keep you busy at times when you are not being productive out of the office. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the SIMON is truly the phone of the future.

    And IBM were right, everything the Simon did is still in use today (with the possible exception of fax) with only minor changes such as being reduced in size and having SD cards and USB for expansion rather than PCMCIA but what is most relevant here is the icons - they definitely have rounded edges, it was a mobile phone, it was touchscreen and it was 1992

    If anything IBM should be suing Apple but obviously their lawyers have a bit more sense than to think rounded edges are a matter for the courts.

    *Shouting so it might sink into the Apple apologists who as we know are cursed with blinkers preventing them from seeing anything outside the Apple walled garden.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Phil the Geek

    Buying time

    Apple know they only have a limited time in the sun with phones and pads. The Androids are racing to the bottom and destroying the high margin Apple craves. So this is Apple playing delaying tactics. They will probable get a chunk of their patent portfolio destroyed by prior art if it goes to court, but Apple won't mind too much if it buys them time until they can apply their brand and attention to detail to the Next Big Thing.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wishful thinking

    I would love to see Samsung take a stand on this and move towards cancelling their supply contracts with Apple. Show that pure greed can bite you in the back side. Unfortunately their own greed will likely prevent that from happening. Apple is responsible for about 5.4% of Samsungs total revenue for last year.

    On another note, the patent system needs a total overhaul as these types of legal actions are pathetic.

    Just as I was going to post this I saw the "ad" for a review of the LG Optimus further down on the page. Funny, it is rectangular with rounded edges. Also has a black border with metallic trim.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      A company that blatantly screws with a customer isn't going to be trusted by other their customers.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    I'm with Apple here...

    The Samsung phone is a total piss take - it's a spitting image for an iphone, in shape, proportions, the UI - and definitely the big display boards they used to have in Carphone Warehouse's windows round here.

    I can't believe they've got away with it for so long.

    1. sleepy


      Samsung ripped off iPhone more totally than any other company, despite, or perhaps because of being in the privileged position of manufacturing supplier to Apple. Obviously, with Apple's minimalist designs, individual design elements are going to be pretty generic, but the overall package clearly copied both "trade dress" and patented elements. Carriers often push these phones to innocent punters with the line "it's basically the same as an iPhone". Whether you think this is, or should be illegal is a separate matter.

      And it's not "pure greed" by Apple, it's survival; their entire business model is based on creating and defending a space where they can innovate, and impose changes their customers haven't asked for. They have to defend this turf. They do innovate, and don't simply toss interchangeable products into a generic market. Apple nearly died, in part through failing to protect their intellectual property.

      Think of these lawsuits as Apple and the competing hoards clarifying exactly what is and what isn't Apple's intellectual property. A bit like a lion finally losing patience with a pack of hyenas.

      1. DavCrav

        Apple = lion???

        "And it's not "pure greed" by Apple, it's survival; their entire business model is based on creating and defending a space where they can innovate, and impose changes their customers haven't asked for."

        My business model is, you each give me £100, then I am happy. Just because they have a business model doesn't mean that it should be protected by the courts.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    the settlement

    Samsung will be allowed to use aspects of the UI,

    Apple gets cheaper chips from Samsung in the way of royalty payments. The two probably negotiated an exclusive deal but to get past the competition regulators, they had to go about it in a "legal" way.

    this is just too dodgy to be true.

  27. hodma727

    Why would anyone defend Samsung in this apart from blind fanbois?

    If someone copies any other design - be it clothing, Mickey Mouse, or someone's art work, they get in trouble.

    No difference here - Samsung should be creating their own UI designs, tablet designs, and phone designs, not stealing from Apple, who actually invest a considerable sum in their design work.

    I hope they get hit hard in the wallet over this and instead diversify the market with their own designs, not by ripping off their main competitor who also happens to be a large customer. Taking advantage of that relationship in this way is really quite appalling.

    It's not as if Korean designers can't do a good design job if they're given an opportunity (though software might be another matter going by the crap on my Samsung TV's).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      Because they haven't stolen the design

      It has similar aspects but that is because there are only a limited number of ways to style a phone and its icons. If they had lifted the icons straight from the iphone I would agree with you but they haven't. They are most definitely produced by Samsungs own designers and other than sharing a similar style like the rounded edges look nothing like Apples icons. This is just Apple trying to take the piss

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Spot on...

      And the Duryea brothers should have sued Ford for stealing their design. Seriously, four wheels, seats, engine, gas tank, engine in the front, steering mechanism, axle... all arranged in an extremely similar pattern.

  28. 42

    I can believe it, wh Apple copied the design themselves!

    Not that would matter to a dedicated fanboy...

  29. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Patent? Design?

    What idiot let them patent a design?

    Patents are for ideas or processes.

    They give the creator protection so they can develop the idea/process.

    Copyrights are for designs.

    They give the creator the right to receive income from whoever uses (with permission) their design.

    It's like having a room full of toddlers all screaming because someone else is playing with their favourite toy. Oh well, at least the lawyers are getting rich. <LOL>

  30. Yakumo


    The design is basically what you get if you aim for a minimal bevel, sensibly rounded corners to protect both the device and user, a usable speaker and a button.

  31. Gary Holcombe


    Not being a fan of the iPhone, or Apple for that matter, I went around looking for an alternative smartphone and had a look at the Samsung. I didnt buy it because....... it was too much like an iPhone. I thought, if I dont want an iPhone then why would I want to buy something which is trying to be one. Between the looks of the thing, the icons and button at the bottom, the thing was just too similar.

    I opted for a HTC Desire instead!

  32. Rob
    Jobs Horns

    Strange that other industries aren't doing the same...

    ... best example I can think of being the Car industry. Take a moment to look at all the cars around today and how many share similiar designs, more so with the high-end saloons nowadays.

    So why aren't more car manufacturers sueing each other over the design of the chassis, I'd guess it's because they are more bothered by the technology under the bonnet. If that is the case then prehaps Apple sueing over the chassis design is masking the fact that others are doing better work under the bonnet.

    I wonder if Apple needs a get out clause from the supply contract and also needs an excuse to carry on not paying dividends to it's shareholders, cause let's face the shareholders must all be pretty pissed they haven't recieved any when Apple is sitting on so much cash and no visible reason to horde it.

  33. Ben 54
    Thumb Down

    Tiles as well?

    Got myself some rounded rectangle tiles for my bathroom. Maybe Apple want to make a claim on them as well? Seriously, the patent law is getting to the point where its completely rubbish.

  34. wathend

    Lots of people way off the mark here

    Seems as though everyone is an expert on procurement and manaufacturing agreements across borders...

    The real issue that Apple has brought up is not the fact that the Samsung dvice looks the same (which it does so they have a claim just as Cadbury has a claim if someone else sells a chocolate bar in a wrapper that is the same color and size), the rela issue is the user interface and how it mimics the Apple patents on pinching for Zoom etc. A lot of development work and design went into that only to see Google and followers copy it.

    Fair call by Apple and now the courts can decide.

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