As the Apple vs Samsung trial starts here in San Jose, California, neither side is backing down from the fight. Samsung’s Chief Product Officer Kevin Packingham had some words that pretty much sum up his thoughts on the whole scene. It all comes down to fighting over rectangles. Here’s what he said during an interview with Wired.
“In terms of patents, we have a made lot of contributions in the design space as well. I would say the patents we’re struggling with — where there’s a lot of discussion and litigation right now — are around these very broad design patents like a rectangle. For us, it’s unreasonable that we’re fighting over rectangles, that that’s being considered as an infringement, which is why we’re defending ourselves.”
If we ignore all the legal detail surrounding the myriad of lawsuits between the two companies, and take a huge step back for a very wide point of view, it’s not impossible to boil the whole thing down to “Your thing looks too much like my thing!” and that’s what Packingham is essentially saying… that Apple and Samsung are at odds over a basic geometric shape.
Should a company be able to patent a shape? Obviously, hardware and software-wise, the two company’s devices are very different. But the general shape of a rounded-corner rectangle is common to both, so should that be allowed? You could also say that a particular Honda has the same shape as a particular Toyota, or that this Logitech mouse is shaped just like that Microsoft one. Personally, and perhaps obviously, I am totally on Samsung’s side on this one. Apple has a lot to lose since they have all their eggs in one iOS basket, so it makes sense they would defend it with all their power. But you’ve got to think somewhere inside the halls of Cupertino, someone is saying quietly to themselves, “Wow, I hope we get away with this.”